The Laval Rocket were back in action on Wednesday night, looking to get back in the win column after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Utica Comets on Teddy Bear Toss night on Saturday. The previous game the Rocket offence ignited for six goals in an impressive outburst, before struggling a bit in the rematch.
Their lineup was bolstered by the return of Dale Weise last night, as well as the arrival of Christian Folin, who was sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint. Both veterans helped to plug some of the holes made by recent injuries piling up after a relatively healthy start to the season. Cayden Primeau was between the pipes and looking to build on an impressive start to his professional career.
The first period was not one that Joël Bouchard had envisioned as the Senators came out firing early and the Rocket struggled to get going. A holding call on Matthew Peca only worsened that effect as the Senators went to the game’s first power play. It took Belleville only a minute to strike with Drake Batherson scoring his eighth goal of the year to put his side up 1-0.
Laval pushed back, but with the period ticking down they lightened up a bit too much. With 29 seconds left in the period, Alex Formenton took advantage to double the lead heading into the first intermission.
After struggling in the opening 20 minutes, the Rocket had more than their fair share of chances in the second period as the Senators’ lack of discipline started to show. Back-to-back penalties by Vitaly Abramov swung the momentum heavily in favour of the Rocket, and while the team did not convert on either advantage they had clearly found their legs.
It was the third straight penalty, this time on Cole Cassels, that bit the Senators as the Rocket man advantage finally broke through. Josh Brook worked a pass around a broken stick to Jake Evans, and Evans in turn fed it to Joe Cox in the slot. Cox paused for a second, then rifled a shot by Filip Gustavsson to get Laval within a goal.
Jake Evans tees up a pass for Joe Cox who scores on the power play.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2019
Rocket trail 2-1 pic.twitter.com/adExefc1lE
A roughing call on Alexandre Alain put a temporary damper on the run of play for the Rocket, but by the end of the two-minute minor they had managed to out-chance the Senators’ power play. Ryan Poehling and Kevin Lynch broke out two-on-one and Poehling’s chance was sticked away. Lynch grabbed the loose puck, and fired his shot just slightly too high, and kept it a 2-1 game.
The Senators failed to really test the Rocket for the final few minutes, seeming content to dump and chase the puck. The Rocket were pushing hard as the horn went for the second intermission, trailing by one goal but in hot pursuit the whole way.
Fourteen seconds into the third period it was a brand new game as the Rocket struck quickly to keep their wave of momentum going. Evans darted down the left wing and dropped off a pass in front of the net and Antoine Waked was all over it, poking the puck by Gustavsson.
14 seconds into the third period and Antoine Waked ties it up on a feed from Jake Evans. pic.twitter.com/dCv96zB2Nd— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2019
Twenty-three seconds after that the play shifted to four-on-four as Cox was called for interference, but Andreas Englund was also whistled for diving. It took only 21 seconds after the penalties for Laval to take advantage of the open ice, with Peca using his speed to its full extent. He took a breakout pass from Michael McCarron and sped off, and wasn’t even contested as he drove towards the net to put Laval up by a goal.
Matthew Peca enters the zone with speed and snipes one through Gustavsson, two goals in 44 seconds makes it 3-2 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/hYi0xb2qpq— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2019
The lead didn’t last for long, as Nikita Jevpalovs was called for tripping with just under 13 minutes left to play. The Senators’ power play worked quickly again, with Josh Norris taking advantage of Primeau being screened to fire home his seventh goal of the year, tying the game at three.
Riley Barber drew another power play by breaking in alone, forcing Jack Dougherty to hold him back, but the power play did not last as Evans himself was called for hooking moments into the advantage. On the ensuing four-on-four, a poorly timed pinch by Folin and a missed check by Barber sent Alex Formenton away on an odd-man rush. Formenton took the shot himself, burying his second goal of the game and putting Belleville back on top.
The Rocket nearly tied it back up with a heavy shift in the Senators zone. Weise was open at the side of the net and had only to tap the shot home. Instead he fumbled the pass, and let a dribbler go that Gustavsson swallowed up for a whistle.
On the next shift, Rudolf Balcers ripped a shot that Cole Cassels got a piece of for a fifth goal and sealed a second straight loss for the Rocket.
The team has Thursday off as they now travel to Syracuse for their first meeting with the Crunch on Friday night, and will then head to Springfield for a Saturday showdown with the Thunderbirds.