With the Laval Rocket actively in the hunt for one of the four playoff spots in the North Division, Joël Bouchard decided to make some drastic pre-game lineup decisions. Riley Barber and Phil Varone — two of the team’s veterans — were removed from the lineup in favour of Michael Pezzetta and Evan McEneny, meaning that the Rocket took on the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon with 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Cayden Primeau was given the start in goal for Laval’s fifth and final game of their road trip.
A lack of discipline in the opening frame proved costly for the Rocket, and the penalties started just 36 seconds in. By the time the period was over, the Rocket had been on the penalty kill on three separate occasions, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. All three of Laval’s penalties were poor ones called in the offensive zone, and despite having two man advantages of their own, the Rocket failed to generate any offence.
Though Laval was close to escaping the first period unscathed, Brendan Gaunce got the Bruins on the board with less than five minutes remaining by picking up Brett Ritchie’s rebound and launching it behind Primeau, who made 27 saves in the loss.
I've got the Rocket for Eyes on the Prize today, where the Providence Bruins lead the Rocket 1-0 near the end of the first. pic.twitter.com/CwCGGVspaD— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) February 16, 2020
The Rocket had two back-to-back chances to tie the game at the start of the second with Steven Kampfer sitting for a delay of game penalty and Jakub Zboril taking a tripping call 20 seconds after Kampfer’s penalty expired, but the Rocket couldn’t get going on either of these power plays, or in the period in general.
Laval registered just seven shots on goal in the second, and their best scoring opportunity came short-handed with a minute and a half left to play. When Jesperi Kotkaniemi — whose AHL point streak came to an end Sunday afternoon — was in the penalty box for tripping, Kevin Lynch sprinted down the ice on a breakaway and rang the puck off the post.
Apologies for the "no signal," I can't get a recording without it. Kevin Lynch heads on a shorthanded breakaway at the end of the first and rings it off the post, so it's still 1-0 Providence after two periods of play. pic.twitter.com/esoiF5D3Q4— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) February 16, 2020
Even though the Rocket had failed to get going in the first 40 minutes, they still had 20 minutes left to solve Providence netminder Dan Vladar, needing just one goal to bring the game back to square one.
Just 38 second into the period when Paul Carey netted his 18th of the season and doubled the Bruins’ lead. He took Primeau by surprise on a wraparound, which effectively stopped the comeback before it could even happen.
Primeau gets taken by surprise early in the third and the Bruins now lead the Rocket 2-0. pic.twitter.com/GAE90tnmBs— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) February 16, 2020
The Bruins scored their third and final goal of the afternoon before five minutes had gone by in the third. Ryan Fitzgerald picked up a loose puck in the slot and skated it around Primeau to further ensure that his team would end up with the two points.
...aaaaand it's 3-0. This is not going well for Laval. pic.twitter.com/573KOaaGAG— Sarah Kossits (@skossits) February 16, 2020
Though the Rocket came close to breaking Vladar’s 32 shutout on their sixth and final power play of the game later in the period, they were unable to get on the board. This means that the Rocket finished out their five-game road trip with a fifth consecutive loss, having only picked up one point of a possible 10.
Final Score: Providence 3, Laval 0
The Rocket will now return to Place Bell for three games, where they hope to get back on the winning track in front of their fans.