Coming off a decisive 4-1 victory over the Binghamton Devils on Wednesday night, the Laval Rocket looked to add another win, this time against the Utica Comets.
After Zachary Fucale shone between the pipes with a 24-save performance, Charlie Lindgren would get the start for Laval last night, while Richard Bachman took the net for Utica.
The Rocket were still down a number of star players, including one of the AHL’s best scorers in Chris Terry, and one of the top blue-liners in the league in Matt Taormina. Some relief was supposed to be on the way in the form of ECHL standout David Vallorani, but a contract hiccup prevented him from joining the team.
Received the following from the AHL regarding Vallorani and the #Rocket: "Per by-laws a player who begins the season playing in a league outside of North America may not join an AHL team after Feb. 1. Vallorani is not eligible to play in the AHL for the remainder of this season."— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) February 9, 2018
Laval jumped out of the gate, getting the first two shots on net in quick succession, but that would not last for long, as the Comets registered the next 11 shots on goal before the Rocket managed another. Thankfully, Lindgren was more than up to the task as he turned away every shot he faced.
A slashing penalty handed the Rocket a perfect chance to stymie the Utica attack, and while the top unit struggled to generate any chances, the second unit cashed in.
Markus Eisenschmid fed a pass to Tom Parisi who let a wrist shot fly, and Bachman kicked a rebound out. Jordan Boucher pounced on the loose puck for his sixth goal of the year.
Laval weathers an early Utica storm, and Jordan Boucher cashes in on a Tom Parisi rebound chance. pic.twitter.com/Y274DT5eEK— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 10, 2018
The lead didn’t last for long however. With Eisenschmid in the box for slashing, a blocked shot found it’s way to a wide-open Nikolay Goldobin, and a desperate lunge from Lindgren wasn’t enough to stop the young Russian from tying the game with one second left on the clock.
The Rocket started the second with a major opportunity, drawing a penalty just 28 seconds into the period and getting a golden chance to take the lead back once again. Bachman was strong between the pipes, turning away a handful of chances, and in fact stopped all 13 shots he faced from a pesky Laval side in the middle period. Lindgren shone as well, holding the Comets off the board, including during a penalty kill just past the midway point of the second.
Not much occurred overall in the middle period, with both goalies standing tall and most of the action coming in shoving matches around the nets when opposing players got just a little bit too close to the goalies. After 40 minutes, the Rocket had at least closed the gap in shots on goal, but Utica held the advantage, 18-16 overall.
Michael McCarron gets a bit too close to Richard Bachman, so a Comets player punches him in the face. pic.twitter.com/8R2TpnNM2f— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 10, 2018
A tightly contested third period saw a slight edge to the Rocket in terms of shots, mostly aided by a pair of power plays over the course of the final 20 minutes. Despite the two man advantages, the best chance of the final period fell to the stick of ECHL call-up Chris Leveille, who was left wide open in front of the net, but a miraculous lunge across the crease by Bachman robbed him of a goal.
As had been the case all game, both Lindgren and Bachman held their opponents at bay, with the Rocket goalie stopping all eight shots he faced in the final period, while Bachman turned away a dozen.
A well-earned point for both teams sent the game to overtime, where it took under a minute to bring the game to a close.
Daniel Audette collected a pass and tried to carry it over the blue line and into the Comets’ zone, but was held up by the opposing defence. From there he attempted a blind pass back to his defenceman, but a change was in progress and Noah Juulsen wasn’t in position to receive the puck. Instead Michael Chaput took the errant pass, broke in on Lindgren and secured a second point for the Comets with just 49 seconds gone in the overtime period.
What an ugly end to the game for Laval, Audette has to make a smarter play than this with the puck in overtime. pic.twitter.com/XLbpzXkENd— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 10, 2018
Despite the outcome, Boucher and Michael McCarron both had strong games on the offensive side of the puck. Boucher was ducking and weaving through the Utica defence, while McCarron played a great physical game while creating net-front havoc for Laval.
The Rocket will head to Syracuse tonight to finish off their road trip against the Crunch, who fell in overtime on Friday night to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
1. Richard Bachman (Win, 27 saves)
2. Michael Chaput (1 goal)
3. Charlie Lindgren (25 saves)