Brandon Gignac’s second goal of the season gave the Laval Rocket a 4-3 overtime win over the Texas Stars on Friday night at Place Bell in Laval.
Gignac took the pass from Jesse Ylönen, used his speed to enter the zone and fired a perfect shot over the shoulder of Texas goaltender Adam Scheel.
Parfait— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) December 4, 2021
Merci Brandon Gignac pic.twitter.com/BMn96egPQP
The goal ended a back-and-forth overtime period where both teams used possession to create chances. Cayden Primeau, who made 32 saves in the game, made a big save on Nicholas Caamano who had loads of time in front. It was his best save of the overtime period.
Primeau deserved a better fate than the game going into overtime. Over the last four minutes of the third period, he was asked to make several saves. With Gignac in the penalty box with around three minutes to go, he made two big saves, stopping Ty Dellandrea’s initial shot, and then Anthony Louis on the rebound.
With the goaltender pulled with under two minutes to go, he made another big toe save to keep the game at 3-2 at the time.
Eventually the Stars got the tying goal to force overtime for the second straight game between the two teams. After a Riley Damiani shot that Primeau saved, the rebound went right to Louis who fired the shot past Primeau with just 7.3 seconds remaining. Primeau almost got a glove on it as he slid across his net, but it wasn’t to be. It was Louis’s second goal of the game, and fourth of the two-game series.
The Rocket got off to a fast start in the game in the first period. Charles-David Beaudoin, playing his first AHL game of the season fresh off of a recall from the ECHL fired a shot towards the net. Cam Hillis got a stick on it, and Laval was up 1-0 on their first shot of the game.
SON PREMIER DE LA SAISON!— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) December 4, 2021
Premier point de la saison aussi pour Charles-David Beaudoin.
HIS FIRST OF THE SEASON!
First point of the season for Beaudoin, with the assist. @cam_hillis #GoRocket pic.twitter.com/flMrimp4Pp
Gignac’s speed caused problems in the first period as well as he drew a penalty after he broke behind the Stars defence. Laval had three power plays in the first period, but they felt the absence of the AHL’s leading goal scorer Laurent Dauphin, and Corey Schueneman, both recalled to the NHL. Xavier Ouellet, who would normally quarterback the power play is out with an injury.
On top of his two goals, Louis had several chances as the forward was a thorn in Laval’s side. In the second half of the opening period, he had a breakaway that was stopped by Primeau.
The Stars tied it on a power play of their own late in the period. The sequence actually started with a good play by Danick Martel. He caused a turnover and broke in on an offensive rush. The puck got turned over in the offensive zone and Texas came right back. The initial Stars rush was shut down, but a failure to clear the puck led to Ben Gleason getting the puck.
He walked in, and fired a shot that went off of Rocket defenceman Louie Belpedio and past Primeau with 1:07 to go in the first period.
Laval started the second period strong as well. Jesse Ylönen had the best chance with about 13 minutes remaining, with a point blank chance on a rebound in front of Scheel, but the Texas goaltender just managed to stick his pad out and rob the Finnish forward.
The Rocket finally got the lead back about three minutes later. After another nice play by Gignac, Kevin Roy pounced on the loose puck in the crease, and on his second attempt finally got the puck past Scheel to make it 2-1. It was Roy’s fourth goal of the season.
Just 90 seconds later, the Stars once again tied it, and once again did so on the power play. The Rocket were the much better team at five-on-five but untimely penalties allowed the Stars to get back into the game.
The fact that the Rocket were missing three regulars on defence finally came back to bite them on the penalty kill. As the puck was in the corner, four Rocket defenders converged on the puck. The issue was that the Stars would win the puck battle and Laval only had four players on the ice. The result was that Louis — yes him again — was all alone in front of the net. He received the pass and had all the time in the world to out-wait Primeau and get his first of two goals in the game.
Laval went into the third period with a lead after all. On their fifth power play of the game, they finally converted. After some confusion behind the Stars net, the puck made its way to Jean-Sébastien Dea who fired a turnaround shot and beat Scheel. It was Dea’s sixth goal of the season.
With the win, Laval closed the gap on the fifth-place Belleville Senators for the final playoff spot in the still-early North Division standings. They finish off the week with a trip to Toronto on Sunday to face the Marlies.
The Rocket had to manage the losses of Dauphin and Schueneman, and had no healthy extra players for Friday’s game. Cam Hillis and Charles-David Beaudoin entered the lineup. Kevin Poulin was Primeau’s backup as Michael McNiven had been dealing with a non-COVID-related illness all week. McNiven skated on Friday morning, but didn’t dress for the game.
Unbelievably, Louie Belpedio was the only healthy defenceman under contract with the Montreal Canadiens. The other five are all on AHL contracts, and two of them spent time in the ECHL with the Trois-Rivières Lions.