If you let the Rocket tell you, there is a need for grease.
Crunch forward Otto Somppi scored a sixth-round shootout-winner to give Syracuse a 3-2 win over Laval on Friday night at Place Bell. It was the first of back-to-back matchups for these two teams this weekend, both home dates for the Rocket.
Laval has the American Hockey League’s worst power play, and they could only capitalize on one of their extra-man chances, ending the night with a one-for-seven success rate on the power play. Syracuse took four penalties in the final few minutes of the third period, giving Laval numerous power-play opportunities, including a 5-on-3, and a 4-on-3 that carried into overtime. But those bore no fruit.
“We had a lot of chances there,” Rocket defenceman Victor Mete said. “We need to shoot more. You can’t score if you can’t shoot. Pucks on net and get some greasy goals.”
Grease, whether from the elbow or the dripping ooze from a meat-covered poutine at a Belle Province, is not pretty. But for someone like Michael McCarron, who scored a “greasy” goal of his own Friday night, it does the job.
“A greasy goal is, like, second or third opportunities,” McCarron said. “You’re not going to beat the goalie clean from the half-wall very often. We need to put the puck at the pads and have multiple guys going to the net.
“They’re not TSN goals. They’re goals that coaches love, and we need more of those.”
Here’s a coach who likes grease: Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard.
“We got really good looks,” Bouchard said. “If one tips in or one hits a skate then we say it’s greasy. I think we were there.”
The coach felt Friday night’s game was a dogfight and liked that his team endured a “playoff atmosphere and experience” against a Crunch team that sits second in the North Division.
Dennis Yan scored in the opening period for Syracuse, deflecting a point shot from Nolan Valleau. That was the only goal in a largely uninteresting opening period that saw both teams record seven shots on goal.
Laval didn’t score until the second period, when Alexandre Alain tied the game at one. The former Blainville-Boisbriand Armada forward was left alone in front of Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale, and was quick to put it past the netminder.
Slick hands in front of the net lets Alexandre Alain score his fourth goal of the year, snapping a 12-game goalless drought. pic.twitter.com/MOYeVrKLVX— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 15, 2018
Moments later, the Rocket took advantage of a Crunch penalty to take the lead. McCarron scored his greasy goal after a shot from the blue line ricocheted off the post. The forward was closest to the puck, and he roofed it past Pasquale.
Eight seconds later, Michael McCarron rips a power play goal.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 15, 2018
2-1 Laval over Syracuse pic.twitter.com/9A8MNZE4nQ
But the lead would only last so long.
The Crunch eventually tied it on a goal from Alexander Volkov. Syracuse had a 2-on-1 after Victor Mete was taken out of the play, leaving Volkov and teammate Cory Conacher alone with Karl Alzner defending. Conacher fed Volkov, who then scored his 13th of the season.
The third saw both teams get into penalty trouble, but neither team capitalize on their special teams. Laval took two penalties in the period, while Syracuse took four in under four minutes near the end of the contest. Laval carred a four-on-three advantage into overtime, but couldn’t score there either.
Both teams needed six shots in the shootout to decide a winner. The Rocket did get some goals, including a Nikita Kucherov-esque goal from Daniel Audette.
Laval loses in a shootout, but Daniel Audette pulled off the Nikita Kucherov non-shot goal regardless. pic.twitter.com/VE2DVeCVFk— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 15, 2018
In the end, it was Somppi’s sixth-round tally that carried Syracuse through. The team now has points in 15 of their last 16 contests. The two sides will reconvene Saturday afternoon at Place Bell.
- Michael McCarron, 1G, 1A
- Alexander Volkov, 1G, shootout goal
- Michael McNiven, 25 saves, SO loss