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Rocket vs. Marlies recap & highlights: Penalty kill sinks Laval yet again

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Different game, same issues for the Habs’ AHL club.

Club de Hockey Canadien Inc.

The Laval Rocket are limping to the end of their hectic March schedule after a disastrous weekend against Charlotte and Belleville, when they lost all three games they played. The Rocket added a few new faces to their lineup ahead of the clash with the Marlies, signing Adam Plant to an AHL deal for next year and a PTO for the remainder of this year. Also new was Bailey Webster, who was a teammate of Simon Bourque in Saint John with the Sea Dogs.

Prior to the game, Chris Terry sat just one point off the AHL scoring lead, and had been red-hot of late. Starting in net would be Charlie Lindgren, who looked to get back on track after staying in for all eight goals in Sunday’s loss. For the Marlies it was the reigning AHL player of the week, Garrett Sparks, between the pipes.

Based on the first 15 minutes, you’d never believe that the Rocket had struggled all year against Toronto, as they owned a lopsided shot advantage, even with a penalty kill in the middle of the period. With a Marlies player in the box for slashing, the Rocket power play went right to work and handed Laval a well deserved lead.

Adam Cracknell won the faceoff cleanly back to Matt Taormina, and he fed the puck to Chris Terry, who wired a shot through Sparks for his 28th goal of the year. The goal gave Terry a share of the AHL scoring lead with Phil Varone of the Lehigh Valley Phantotms.

Then the Rocket of old reared its head once more, with Anthony Beauregard taking an ill-advised penalty. It took just 11 second for Pierre Engvall to tie the game on the power play.

Before the period could end, they headed back to the penalty kill one more time, with Jeremy Grégoire going off for slashing Justin Holl’s stick in two. Laval managed to dispatch the remainder of Gregoire’s penalty with little to no issue to start the second, and then, much like the first period, turned the pressure up on Toronto.

The Rocket had their chances as the period progressed, including a few that sailed wide of the net as Sparks was down and out of position.

Jeremiah Addison took a hooking penalty with just under eight minutes left to play, forcing his team to the penalty kill once again. On the man advantage the Marlies took the lead, with Trevor Moore cutting through the centre of the zone and ripping a high shot on Lindgren.

Toronto continued to pile on after that. With two-and-a-half minutes left to play in the second period, Vincent LoVerde stepped into a shot in the slot and pushed the Marlies lead to two goals.

The third period didn’t bring many more good tidings for the Rocket, as Toronto kept their foot on the gas even with the lead. An early penalty took the wind out of the Rocket’s sails, and, despite killing it off, the team was never able to establish a real offensive threat.

After some off-setting roughing minors, the Marlies put the final nail in the coffin. Andreas Borgman wove his way around the offensive zone, and then fired a shot through Lindgren to make it a 4-1.

A pair of late power plays couldn’t help the Rocket claw their way back into the game, with Ben Smith adding a short-handed empty-net goal for good measure to make it a 5-1 affair.

Even with the game out of reach, Laval then managed to turn a man advantage into a 4-on-4 situation, then into a 3-on-4 penalty kill in the span of less than two minutes; a rather apt representation of how the game went for them overall.

The Rocket will be back in action on Friday night against the Binghamton Devils, and then again on Saturday against the Hershey Bears. It’s likely that the newly signed Adam Plant will suit up for his first professional game sometime in that window.

Three Stars

1. Garrett Sparks (38 saves, win)

2. Jeremy Bracco (3 assists)

3. Vincent LoVerde (1 goal)