Final Score: Laval 6, Manitoba 5 (SO)
Following Thursday night’s shutout loss to the Manitoba Moose, the Laval Rocket would take the ice at the Bell MTS Centre for a rematch. While the Rocket played well in the previous game, their chances were thwarted due to a stellar performance from Eric Comrie and some early whistles by the officials.
The biggest concern heading into Saturday’s game was related to the health of goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who appeared to have re-aggravated a lower body injury that kept him out six weeks, but he was able to skate with the team on Friday. It would be Lindgren between the pipes as he looked to shake off the previous game and earn his first victory after his injury.
It would be a back and forth affair all night, from the opening minutes right to the game ending shootout, as the Rocket would claim their first ever victory at Bell MTS Centre since joining the AHL.
The Moose jumped out to an early lead on a goal by Brent Pedersen. A miscommunication in the defensive zone left Pedersen wide open in the slot and Logan Shaw had little trouble getting him the puck from behind the net.
Laval put themselves in penalty trouble with David Schlemko heading to the box for holding, forcing Charlie Lindgren to make a couple of big saves to keep it a one goal game. As the Rocket pushed for a tying goal they were aided by back to back Moose penalties, from Logan Stanley and Jimmy Oligny.
With Oligny sitting, the Laval power play got an absolute gift of a goal thanks to a lucky pair of re-directions. Xavier Ouellet let the shot fly from the point, then hit Alex Belzile, and then smacked Peter Stoykewych in the face, and past Eric Comrie for a tying goal.
Alex Belzile gets his eighth goal of the year after his deflection,then deflects off of Peter Stoykewych's face and past Eric Comrie. pic.twitter.com/gpZrs2SVxT— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
It was a short lived joy. Hayden Verbeek went to the box and less than a minute into the Manitoba power play Jansen Harkins went blocker side on Lindgren to make it a 2-1 game. Then the Moose gave it right back. J.C. Lipon was called for roughing, and Laval needed just eight seconds for Jake Evans to fire a pass to Daniel Audette who directed the shot home for another Rocket power play goal.
Jake Evans with a perfect feed for Daniel Audette's first goal of the game. pic.twitter.com/mrMSnNZ39R— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
The second period continued the goal bonanza for both teams. This time it would be the Rocket getting on the board first, and doing so shorthanded. Lukas Vejdemo blew by Cameron Schilling, who lost an edge trying to turn to keep up with the play. Vejdemo nearly scored on his breakaway if not for the paddle of Eric Comrie, but Antoine Waked jumped all over the rebound for his second goal of the year.
Lukas Vejdemo is robbed of a shorthanded goal by Eric Comrie, Antoine Waked cashes in on the loose puck. pic.twitter.com/NPBY64AS5u— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
This lead was also not safe, as the Rocket surrendered their momentum with back to back penalties which gave the Moose all the chances they needed to tie the game. Michael Spacek did exactly that while Cale Fleury sat for high-sticking. It was all Moose as the period wound down as well, and with just over two minutes left, Logan Stanley put Manitoba back in the lead with a shot from the point that beat a screened Lindgren to make it 4-3.
As was tradition in this game, there was a quick goal to start the third period, this time Daniel Audette tallying his second of the night. Marko Dano was whistled for tripping just a minute and sixteen seconds in, and the suddenly thriving Rocket power play took the ice again. Jake Evans started the cycle, and Xavier Ouellet dished off to Audette who ripped a bullet into the upper corner to tie the game at 4-4.
Daniel Audette with an absolute snipe for his sixth of the year, and second of the night. pic.twitter.com/5UHkNLVmkM— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
A few minutes later the Rocket took the lead back with a non-special teams goal for the first time in the game. Byron Froese tied up in the face-off dot, so Antoine Waked jumped in and fed a pass to Nikita Jevpalovs in the slot. The Latvian finished the play off with a pinpoint shot that beat Comrie, and gave Laval yet another lead.
Antoine Waked gets the puck off the draw and Nikita Jevpalovs finishes the play off for a gorgeous looking goal. pic.twitter.com/C4DtpS68Jd— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
The back and forth battle continued as the minutes waned in the final period, but the Moose would not go down quietly. With less than five minutes left the hosts tied it once more, this time it was Marko Dano atoning for his earlier penalty with a deflection goal.
Regulation wouldn’t determine a winner, so the two teams headed to overtime where Charlie Lindgren stood tall, even while facing down a four-on-three power play to drag the contest into a shootout.
Lindgren stopped Seth Griffith, Logan Shaw and Jansen Harkins for the Moose, while Daniel Audette scored for the Rocket with a nifty move to give Laval a massive win and an important one for Lindgren himself.
Daniel Audette caps off a three point night with a nifty shootout goal vs Manitoba pic.twitter.com/l7YmMx8SCc— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 13, 2019
The Rocket will now return home for a Wednesday night showdown with the Belleville Senators at Place Bell, and then welcome the Cleveland Monsters for a two game series this Friday and Saturday.
1. Daniel Audette (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
2. Jansen Harkins (MAN) (1 Goal, 1 Assist)
3. Jake Evans (2 Assists)