Cayden Primeau made 32 saves, including 15 in the third period for his second shutout of the season as the Laval Rocket beat the Belleville Senators 3-0 at Place Bell in Laval on Wednesday night.
The win snapped the Rocket’s four-game losing streak. Alexandre Fortin, Ryan Poehling, and Gabriel Bourque scored for Laval.
The Rocket came out strong in the first period. They outshot Belleville 12-4 in the period, and held them to one shot through the first 10 minutes. The Senators did have some rushes early on, but missed the net.
Laval’s start was a testament to all four lines, as they all had some offensive zone time, especially the line of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Lukas Vejdemo, and Jesse Ylönen. Danick Martel had some chances on a rush as well, and Brandon Baddock’s deflection hit the post with just under eight minutes left.
The Rocket finally opened the scoring on their 12th shot. Gianni Fairbrother made a great cross-seam pass to Alexandre Fortin, who wired the shot past Senators goaltender Mads Sogaard for his first goal with the team.
Gianni Fairbrother with the perfect cross-zone feed and Alexandre Fortin buries the goal!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 11, 2021
1-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/EVvWWc6K1z
The Laval power play had a chance to open the second period, and although there were some scrambles in the crease, that was as close as the Rocket came. Laval would get two more back-to-back power plays midway through the period, but were unable to generate much.
Right after the power plays, it was Belleville who had the best chance. A rebound came off of Primeau and to Zac Leslie, but his shot from the left circle went high and wide.
The Rocket came right back. Caufield lifted the stick of Andrew Agozzino, which caused the Senator to lose the puck. Danick Martel picked it up and led him on a two-on-one with Ryan Poehling. Caufield’s shot would be saved by Sogaard, but the rebound went right to Poehling who made no mistake and beat a diving Sogaard to make it 2-0.
Cole Caufield strips the puck, and then sets up a Ryan Poehling goal!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 11, 2021
2-0 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/XgOfiMq1VO
Primeau continued to keep the Senators at bay in the second period, making a save on Mark Kastelic shortly after Poehling’s goal, and a flurry of chances in the final minute of the period managed to stay out as well. In all, the Rocket goaltender made 13 saves in the period as Belleville outshot Laval 13-11 despite the three Rocket power plays.
The third period saw the Senators push back and they dominated most of the play. Primeau was up to the task when he needed to be.
“Primeau was really good,” said Rocket coach Jean-François Houle. “He made key saves at the right time and when you have that from a goaltender it gives life to the rest of the team.”
With the goalie pulled, Harvey-Pinard beat his defender in a one-on-one battle and made a clever little pass to Bourque for the 3-0 goal with the empty net. It was Bourque’s first goal with the team as well.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard battles through a Senator, poking the puck over the Gabriel Bourque to seal the shutout win for Cayden Primeau pic.twitter.com/iiwonpoDu5— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 11, 2021
Laval has one day of practice before going right back into action on Friday as they host the Bridgeport Islanders. They complete the week with a game Saturday against the Utica Comets.
- Caufield’s game in both ends drew praise from his coach. “It was a very good defensive play,” Houle said. “He lifted the stick and went on the attack. What I liked is that he didn’t try to go top cheese, he saw the goaltender came out so he went for the pads to make a pass. It was great for him to not to be selfish and set the play up for Poehling.”
“That’s the stuff I need to clean up,” Caufield said about the defensive play.
Houle has been playing Caufield as the bumper on the power play because they like what Jesse Ylönen brings as a shooter and Houle sees Caufield as bringing a similar element to what Brayden Point brings as the bumper on Tampa Bay’s power play.
- Mattias Norlinder was playing his third and final game with the Rocket before going back to the Canadiens. He said that it wasn’t his best game, and that the trouble he had handling the puck was frustrating because he sees that as the strength of his game.
“I had some problems with the puck, obviously I had an injury and was away for a bit but still, playing with the puck is my best part,” Norlinder said.
“It was a little bit more difficult for him [Wednesday night],” Houle said. “He had a couple of turnovers. But you can see in the way he carries himself, the way he skates, he has the potential to be a very good player in the future.”
Before Wednesday’s game, at Tuesday’s practice, Houle mentioned the specific challenges Norlinder faces adjusting to the smaller rink.
“He doesn’t have as much time as a defenceman [with the puck], same thing when he defends,” Houle said. “On the small rinks you have to be more aggressive, you don’t have the time to keep the guy to the outside because he’ll burn you to the net. He has a couple of things he has to learn but he has a lot of potential.”
Not only did he have a lengthy period without playing, but he also had to come right back into a new league.
“Obviously everything is new here so it will take some time to adjust,” Norlinder said. “This week has been incredible with the boys here. I’m just happy to be back and playing some hockey.”
- Wednesday’s game was a bit of a lightning strike with almost all of the team’s top prospects at the professional level playing in Laval for the first time. With Poehling and Norlinder now with the Montreal Canadiens, it remains to be seen if, or, when, it will happen again. Norlinder can’t be assigned to the AHL this season, and Poehling will look to stick in the NHL now that injuries have provided him with the chance that his own injuries have taken away so many times.
Players will always say that there’s no good time for an injury, but you have to think that Poehling would have gotten back to the NHL sooner if it wasn’t for some of his, especially the one that ended his season last year.
As a result of Poehling’s Wednesday night recall, Cam Hillis was recalled from the ECHL’s Trois-Rivières Lions on Thursday morning. The Rocket were down to 12 healthy forwards after Poehling was called up.
Danick Martel — Ryan Poehling — Cole Caufield
Gabriel Bourque — Laurent Dauphin — Jean-Sébastien Dea
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard — Lukas Vejdemo — Jesse Ylönen
Brandon Baddock — Brandon Gignac — Alexandre Fortin
Mattias Norlinder — Xavier Ouellet
Corey Schueneman — Louie Belpedio
Gianni Fairbrother — Tobie Paquette-Bisson
Scratched/Injured: Josh Brook, Joël Teasdale, Kevin Roy, Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Tory Dello, Carl Neill
Jean-François Houle made some changes ahead of this game. He shook up the top three lines and moved some players around. The team had lost four straight games heading into Wednesday’s game. He has said over the past few weeks that he’s looking for better play in the defensive zone and that will help generate offence.