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Laval vs. Belleville recap & highlights: Cayden Primeau shuts out the Senators in a crucial game

All games are now big games for the Rocket, and they grabbed a massive win on Wednesday night.

Club de Hockey Canadien

After a massively successful road trip through Cleveland saw the Laval Rocket claim four points, scoring 10 goals over the two games, the team was back in action on Wednesday night with plenty of news surrounding them. On the negative side, both Ryan Poehling and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were missing from the lineup, the latter of whom won’t see any more action this season.

On the positive side of things, Lukas Vejdemo rejoined the team, fresh off scoring his first NHL goal on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. There was also a major surprise as defenceman Noah Juulsen, who had spent much of the season recovering from issues caused by the two pucks he took to the face well over a year ago against the Capitals, was in the starting lineup. Getting the call in net was Cayden Primeau, looking to snap his cold streak against the Belleville Senators.

Laval jumped out to a lead early on, as their offence found a goal in under 80 seconds. Yannick Veilleux laid a puck off for Joseph Blandisi, who fired a shot right onto the stick of Nikita Jevpalovs. The Latvian winger roofed his backhand shot to put Laval up by a goal very early in a crucial game.

The onslaught continued, with the Rocket compiling a 9-1 shot advantage before going to the game’s first power play. It looked like Blandisi had doubled the Rocket lead on the advantage, but the net behind Filip Gustavsson had been knocked off, denying the Rocket forward a goal.

The Rocket did well to keep the Senators’ attack at bay, but with a power play in the final minutes of the first period, Belleville was poised to get on the board. The Laval penalty-killers fended off the opportunity, allowing barely any pucks to get to Primeau.

While the first period was heavily in favour of the Rocket, the second started with the Senators keeping Laval firmly held into their own zone, forcing them to defend for several minutes to start. It was capped off by Noah Juulsen being run head-first into the boards from behind, in plain sight of the official, but nothing was called on the play. Otto Leskinen did all that he could to get at the offending party without taking a penalty as well. Tempers finally boiled over a as Hubert Labrie took exception to Michael Pezzetta trying to remove himself from in front of the Senators’ net, leading to a short but spirited bout between the two players.

The Rocket were able to gain another power play, again thanks to a hit from behind by the Senators. With Joseph LaBate in the box, Laval went to a second power play. They managed to pelt Gustavsson with a multitude of shots, but the Senators’ netminder stood tall to keep the Laval lead at just one goal.

LaBate’s temper earned him another two minutes in the box as he took a run at Maxim Lamarche after taking a strong hit along the boards. The power amounted to several prime chances, but no goal.

Sustained pressure forced the Senators onto their heels, and with a delayed penalty waiting the Rocket took advantage. Laurent Dauphin worked the puck along the boards in the corner before turning to fire a puck across the goalmouth to Jake Lucchini, who had no issue burying it for a last-minute goal to make it 2-0 Rocket heading into the intermission.

As the third period wore on it was clear that the Rocket were not going to surrender their stranglehold on the game, controlling the flow of shots. Vejdemo nearly made it a three-goal lead when he broke in alone after a loose puck, but his attempt to tuck it past Gustavsson’s pad was denied by the Belleville goalie’s outstretched pad.

The Laval attack kept the Senators from gaining any sort of momentum as the minutes ticked away, and even with the net empty Belleville wasn’t able to find the same magic they had earlier this season against Laval. Gustav Olofsson came up with a massive shift to help keep them off the board, and in the final minute Blandisi tucked a puck into an empty net for his third point on the night and to seal the win.

Final Score: Laval 3, Belleville 0

Facing just 15 shots, Primeau recorded his fourth shutout of the year, good for third in the AHL and tops among all rookie goaltenders in the league.

Assuming play is not suspended for the coronavirus pandemic, the Rocket will open a massive two-game series against the Binghamton Devils on Friday night at Place Bell.