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Laval @ Toronto recap and highlights: Charlie Lindgren’s stellar performance not enough in OT loss

After a long injury layoff, the Rocket’s starting goalie did everything he could in Toronto.

Club de Hockey Canadien

Marlies 1, Rocket 0 (OT)

After a well deserved All-Star break, the Laval Rocket continued their massive road trip, this time heading into Toronto for a two-game weekend series with the Marlies.

This will be the first meeting between the teams since December, where the Rocket took two out of three games, overcoming a long streak of dismal performances against their rivals.

Thanks to an NHL recall, the Rocket would be without Michael McNiven, meaning the goaltending duo of Charlie Lindgren and Connor LaCouvee were on the bench for the Rocket. Across from them in net for the Marlies would be Michael Hutchinson.

It was a quiet start for both sides, a rarity in this rivalry where goals are usually not hard to come by. The shot count was close through the opening 20 minutes until the Marlies went on the game’s first power play thanks to an Alexandre Alain penalty. The Laval penalty kill came up big to keep the game scoreless in the first period (a trend that would continue) and both teams would head to intermission without a goal.

A slashing call on David Sklenicka at the end of the first period handed Toronto a full two minute power play to start the second period on a fresh sheet of ice. The Rocket would kill the penalty off, thanks to some luck when Pierre Engvall wiring a shot past Lindgren, but off the crossbar for the Marlies’ best chance on the man advantage.

Toronto kept their pressure on from there, driving up their shot advantage heavily against Laval, but Lindgren remained strong between the pipes. Byron Froese had one of the Rocket’s best chances of the period in close. After another big save, this time on Jeremy Bracco, the Rocket counter attacked and in the process drew their first penalty of the night, heading to the power play.

Power play struggles continued for the Rocket, as they managed only one really good chance on Hutchinson, a backdoor play that Alex Belzile nearly tapped home. Outside of that, the Marlies penalty kill smothered the Rocket players along the boards, not allowing any really threatening chances on net during the two minute penalty. Laval wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance on the power play, as Trevor Moore was whistled for slashing with just under six minutes left to play.

It was no dice once again on the man advantage, but the Rocket still nearly took the lead with under four minutes to play. Alexandre Alain fed a puck to Nikita Jevpalovs, and the Latvian forward couldn’t get enough lift on his shot to get it over a lunging stop by a Marlies defender, keeping the game scoreless still.

A late shot by Froese as the horn blew drew the ire of the Marlies on the ice, but both sides would head into the second intermission still scoreless, but Toronto holding a 22-11 shot advantage.

The Rocket continued to defend well through the opening minutes of the third period, and nearly found the first goal of the game. A timely poke check by Daniel Audette on Stefan Leblanc sent the Rocket forward on an odd-man rush, but instead of shooting he opted to try and force a pass to Jake Evans which was broken up by a Marlies defender.

A quiet period continued after that, until late in the game when Belzile was sent to the box for slashing after being stripped of the puck by Chris Mueller. Some timely blocks by Brett Lernout helped the Laval penalty kill stay perfect on the nigh as Belzile exited the box with the score still scoreless late in the third period.

Lindgren continued to stop everything thrown his way as the Rocket seemed perfectly content to ride into overtime, securing at least a point thanks to Lindgren’s outstanding performance in net. Daniel Audette would be called for high-sticking just 38 seconds in overtime, giving Toronto a four on three power play in the extra period.

After some incredible shorthanded work from Alex Belzile, the Marlies finally found their break with Chris Mueller grabbing the power play game winner. A cross crease pass from Trevor Moore landed on Mueller’s stick and he took two clean whacks at the puck to chip it across the line, and behind a sprawling Lindgren.

The two sides will clash again on Saturday at 4:00 p.m., and after an incredible performance in net it wouldn’t be surprising to see Charlie Lindgren start again.

Three Stars

1. Chris Mueller (1 Goal)
2. Charlie Lindgren (36 Saves)
3. Michael Hutchinson (Win, 15 Saves, Shutout)