clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Laval @ Bridgeport game recap: Rocket stymied by the Islanders

The Rocket didn’t play poorly, but they never really found a second gear in a Sunday afternoon loss.

Club de Hockey Canadien

The Laval Rocket continued their road trip through the northeastern United States with a stop in Bridgeport for a showdown with the newly branded Islanders club. The lineup wasn’t much changed from the Rocket’s 4-0 win in Providence the night before, with the only changes being Carl Neill slotting in for Troy Dello on defence, and Cayden Primeau getting the nod in net.

Laval was hoping to see Laurent Dauphin continue his red-hot goal-scoring streak, but also had to contend with the formidable duo on the Islanders in Chris Terry and Otto Koivula.

In the opening minutes, the pressure belonged all to the Rocket as their lines tested Jakub Skarek from in tight a few times. However, the Islanders were more than prepared to weather the early push, and registered a few scoring chances that forced Primeau to be sharp early on. Both teams continued to trade scoring chances on and off, but for the majority of the first period neither side did much to wrest control of the game.

Laval was caught flatfooted in the neutral zone, with one defender falling down as Eric Brown broke in on a breakaway opportunity. Primeau kicked out his right pad to deny Brown, who was attempting to outwait the Rocket netminder. The Islanders were then able to set up shop inside the Laval zone, and forced the Rocket to defend on their back foot to end the first period. Primeau was quick with the glove to deny any second chances as the intermission whistle sounded.

While the Islanders dominated the end of the first period, the start of the second belonged entirely to Laval. The Rocket jumped out of the gate to test Skarek and dominate the offensive zone time against Bridgeport, but the Islanders’ netminder remained steadfast between the pipes.

The Rocket’s speed on loose pucks earned them the first power play of the game as Parker Wotherspoon was called for tripping up Rafaël Harvey-Pinard as he attempted to jump into the offensive zone. The man advantage had no problems keeping the puck inside the blue line, but found clean looks on net hard to come by. Louie Belpedio had the best chance from the faceoff dot as the power play came to an end, but his big shot was swallowed up by Skarek.

The power play struggles almost immediately came back to bite Laval, as the Islanders found some momentum from their penalty kill and set up shop in the offensive zone. Wotherspoon slipped a pass to Robin Salo, and Salo teed up Anatoly Golyshev to fire a shot by Primeau to put the Islanders on top.

Following that, Harvey-Pinard found himself in the penalty box as he took out Andy Andreoff at the knees while diving to break up a scoring chance. The Rocket penalty-killers had to be on their toes as the Islanders were relentless in pounding shots towards the net. Some big blocks from Gianni Fairbrother on Terry kept the Bridgeport lead at just one as the game returned back to even strength.

Things settled back into a lull as neither team managed to find any sort of traction as the period wore on. Bridgeport had one chance as Xavier Ouellet took a seat for slashing in the final minute of the period. Laval escaped that unharmed, but started the third period with the second half of his minor penalty to kill off.

An aggressive penalty kill started the third period, including Gabriel Bourque breaking in alone on Skarek, but he too was denied by the Bridgeport goalie. The great start from the Laval PK killed off the rest of Ouellet’s minor and returned back to even strength.

Despite that start, the Islanders soon doubled their lead thanks to a poorly timed turnover in the defensive zone. Simon Holmstrom grabbed the errant pass, and he in turn fed it to Golyshev, who snapped his second goal of the afternoon over Primeau to make it a two-goal lead for Bridgeport.

A strong fourth-line shift resulted in Brandon Baddock drawing a tripping call, giving the Rocket another chance on the power play. After a good display on their first opportunity, the second attempt was much more disjointed, and the players spent most of the time retrieving the puck from down the ice as opposed to setting up in the Islanders’ zone.

Once the play shifted back to even strength, the Rocket were caught out by a bit of trickery by Koivula as he circled out of the offensive zone. As he did, Arnaud Durandeau bolted forward to catch Koivula’s pass and nearly made it a three-goal game if not for Primeau slamming the door shut again.

The Rocket weren’t deterred as they hemmed the Islanders in their own end, but the Bridgeport defence did well to keep themt pushed out of the dangerous areas. Skarek remained a brick wall to deny anything that did get through. To make matters worse Ouellet was called for holding, putting the Rocket back on the penalty kill with time dwindling in the third period.

The penalty-killers did their job once again, handling Bridgeport fairly easily to keep the deficit at two goals with about two minutes left to play. The Rocket opted to call timeout, and then pulled Primeau for the extra attacker.

The gambit didn’t pay off as an errant pass went to former Rocket sniper Terry, and he skated it right down ice to seal the game for the Islanders and put a cap on a frustrating afternoon for the Rocket.

Final Score: Bridgeport 3, Laval 0

The Rocket will head back to Place Bell to end the month with three straight home games. First on the docket is a Wednesday night battle with the Toronto Marlies at 7:00 PM.