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Laval @ Toronto recap: Offensive finish goes missing in shutout loss to Marlies

A second straight game with a stellar goaltending performance results in a loss for the Rocket.

Club de Hockey Canadien

Less than 24 hours after Charlie Lindgren dragged the Rocket to a point in an overtime loss, Laval renewed hostilities with the Toronto Marlies once again. Ryan Culkin was recalled from the ECHL and took the place of Adam Plant in the defensive formation. In net Connor LaCouvee was given the start by Joël Bouchard, while Kasimir Kaskisuo got the call for the Marlies.

After a game last night where it took over 60 minutes for a goal to be scored, the Marlies flipped the script, scoring a power-play goal just over two minutes in. Daniel Audette’s penalty cost his team for a second straight game as Sam Gagner fired a puck by LaCouvee to open the scoring.

The Rocket had a pair of power plays to try to even the score in the first period, but without their catalyst in Xavier Ouellet (out with an illness) their man advantage came up short, sending them into the first intermission trailing by a goal.

Neither side could find much of an opening through the first half of the second period. Alex Belzile’s partial breakaway represented the best chance for either team. Kaskisuo managed to get a glove on it as the Rocket’s All-Star forward drove hard though the crease with a great power move.

Another power-play chance thanks to a Chris Mueller crosscheck represented a crucial chance for the Rocket to find their tying goal. Byron Froese nearly did just that, weaving around a Toronto defender and firing a laser of a shot that Kaskisuo got the knob of his stick on to deflect it out of play. Even without a goal, the man advantage was looking much more formidable, and not long after Mueller exited the box, Calle Rosen took his place.

Several good looks went for naught as Kaskisuo continued to slam the door shut on the formidable Rocket attack. Despite Laval owning the flow of play for most of the second period, the Marlies’ relentless pressure to end the frame forced Cale Fleury into taking a penalty. The final seconds went by without a goal, giving Toronto nearly a full two minutes of power-play time to start the second period.

LaCouvee faced down the best of the Marlies’ attackers to start the third period, and he came up with some big saves to keep the deficit at just one goal, giving his teammates a chance to find the tying goal. That continued to be the story as the period approached its midway point, as the netminder stood tall while the Rocket counterattack was stifled by the Marlies at every turn.

Things got a bit testy as Gagner and Belzile jawed through the neutral zone, while jousting with each other. Both were called for roughing and sent to the box for two minutes while the game shifted to 4-on-4 play. When he exited the box, Belzile continued to put himself into spots to break through and grab the first goal of the day, but Kaskisuo remained a wall in net for Toronto.

With just under two minutes left, LaCouvee bolted for the bench, shifting it to a 6-on-4 game, but a smart chip by Colin Greening sent the puck the other way, and Trevor Moore deposited the puck into the empty net effectively sealing the victory for the Marlies. Chris Mueller added a second empty-net goal not long after, and sent the Rocket to a second straight shutout loss in Toronto this weekend, a 3-0 defeat.

The Rocket are now off almost an entire week before they open a home-and-home series with the Belleville Senators next Friday at Place Bell. After dropping three of four points in Toronto, the team will need a big showing next week, lest they fall out of the playoff race further.

Three Stars

1. Kasimir Kaskisuo (Win, 33 Saves, Shutout)

2. Connor LaCouvee (24 Saves)

3. Calle Rosen (Two Assists)