The crowd at Place Bell was looking for something to cheer for all night. They were restless during several failed power plays (the Rocket went 1/9) and even started groaning when Rocket players held the puck behind their net — something usually reserved for visiting players.
In the shootout, as Dale Weise jumped over the boards for round seven, where a goal would secure the win, the crowd rose to their feet when they saw who was shooting. They cheered as loud as they had all night. Weise fired the shot past Veini Vehvilainen and secured the 3-2 win for the Laval Rocket over the Cleveland Monsters.
Weise, who was re-acquired by the Montreal Canadiens organization last season, has become a fan favourite due to his surprising ascent in his first stint with the team. Weise always had a knack for big goals, best exemplified during the 2014 playoffs when he started things off with an overtime winner against the Tampa Bay Lightning, then celebration against the Boston Bruins leading to the infamous handshake line.
“That was awesome, that was a really good feeling” Weise said about the crowd. “I didn’t see them stand up, but obviously I heard the volume that was probably one of the loudest points of the game. The fan base here is great, They’ve always supported me. I got chills.”
“I probably should have sent him earlier [in the shootout],” said Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard. “I wanted to send him a few shooters before, but we work on shootouts and I sent some guys who had certain dekes I thought would be successful.”
The shootout was scoreless through two shooters on each side. Charlie Lindgren stopped Nathan Gerbe and Markus Hannikainen, while Vehvilainen stopped Ryan Poehling and Jake Evans. They were followed by two straight goals on each side. Stefan Matteau and Marko Dano for Cleveland, and Charles Hudon and Michael Pezzetta for Laval.
Lukas Vejdemo and Josh Brook were also sent out by Bouchard, and Lindgren made three more saves afterwards to set up Weise’s shot.
For most of the game, it didn’t even look like it would get to a shootout. After Gerbe and Kevin Stenlund scored first period goals for the Monsters, Laval trailed 2-0. Early in the second period, it appeared that it became 3-0.
Gerbe’s shot went in the net, but it was ruled that there was incidental contact on Lindgren and the goal was disallowed to keep it 2-0. After a chance for Joe Cox and Brook on Vehvilainen, the Gerbe again had another chance, this time a breakaway on Lindgren. The Rocket goaltender made the save, which may have been just what Laval needed.
Less than five minutes later, Kevin Lynch chipped the puck up to Weise, who got behind the defensive coverage and beat Vehvilainen in similar fashion to his shootout winner.
Dale Weise puts it home on the breakaway.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 11, 2019
Laval trails 2-1. pic.twitter.com/3g5dIq38Ud
In the third period, a parade of penalties started. Alexandre Alain took a high sticking penalty 3:35 into the final frame, and as he exited the penalty box took a high stick himself which drew blood (and appeared to cost him a tooth).
The four minute power play started off auspiciously, but got a boost when Ryan MacInnis went off for tripping giving the Rocket a 5-on-3 advantage for the full two minutes.
It led to more frustration. Laval used great passing to get into scoring opportunities, but they either passed up the open net, or just couldn’t get their shot through. Less than a minute after the double minor to Doyle Somerby ended, another high sticking penalty was called on the Monsters.
Once again, the Rocket power play failed to score and was sitting at 0/7. Somerby took another high sticking penalty with just over four minutes remaining. This time, Laval finally broke through.
An Xavier Ouellet point shot was blocked and fell directly to Charles Hudon. Hudon settled the puck down and fired the shot past Vehvilainen to tie the game with 3:48 remaining.
Charles Hudon rips this shot home for his 10th goal of the year.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 11, 2019
Laval has tied it up late in the third! pic.twitter.com/EqYB2PP0wz
“Once you start to go three, four power plays without scoring, it gets tough,” Hudon said. “We stayed positive, kept working, and we were able to tie the game.”
Hudon, who was playing his first game back after a nine-game NHL stint was put on the right wing of Poehling and Evans. He said he was thinking a bit too much to start the game before settling in.
“I’m trying to [enjoy myself as much as possible],” Hudon said. “That’s what was missing a lot last year and even when I was in Montreal I wanted to have fun and stay positive, stay confident and when you have games like this it will be even easier tomorrow morning.”
Lindgren, who left Saturday’s game less than 10 minutes into it due to an injury, made 21 saves on 23 shots. The Rocket, who were outshot 12-6 in the first period, outshot Cleveland 24-11 over the final two periods and overtime.
Poehling had a golden opportunity to end the game in regulation but his shot was blocked in desperation by Adam Clendening to keep the game tied. The Rocket had a 4-on-3 power play in overtime, but once again could not convert.
Laval plays two home games this weekend against the Rochester Americans as they want to keep their two-game winning streak in tact and get back into a playoff position in the AHL’s North Division.
- Michael McCarron and Alex Belzile were added to the Rocket injured list and missed Tuesday’s game, which already included Noah Juulsen, Phil Varone, and William Pelletier. Matthew Peca, Otto Leskinen, and Riley Barber are all with the NHL team as the depth for the organization is being tested right now.