For the first time this season, the Laval Rocket faced a losing streak as they headed into games on back-to-back nights against the Manitoba Moose. Despite the Rocket’s shot domination and overall high level of play against the Moose in two games earlier in the week, a pair of stellar games by goaltender Mikhail Berdin stole two wins.
The lineup changed only slightly from the game on Wednesday, with Gianni Fairbrother taking a seat to allow Josh Brook into the lineup. Kaiden Guhle was in the starting lineup for the final time this year, as both he and Fairbrother were returning to their respective WHL clubs after the game. Offensively, Jake Lucchi and Arsen Khisamutdinov both drew back in, and Cayden Primeau was given the start with Charlie Lindgren as his backup.
While the Rocket were hoping for a strong start to avoid losing a third game in a row, they fell behind early to the Moose. Neither team really established a strong attack, yet a shot by Declan Chisholm made its way through a screen and past Primeau to put Manitoba on top with just under five minutes gone in the first period.
Laval didn’t have to wait long to get their opportunity to tie the game though, as a strong run by Laurent Dauphin drew a tripping call. The Rocket man advantage didn’t trouble Berdin too much even when pucks were worked into dangerous areas, and the follow-up shots were lacking any real menace. An errant pass as the penalty expired turned into a breakaway chance for Kristian Reichel, but a lunging save from Primeau kept the Moose lead at just one goal early on.
After a back-and-forth start, the game settled into a bit of a lull, with both teams struggling to find meaningful zone time. However, a late penalty to Corey Schueneman presented Manitoba with a chance to double its lead heading into the first intermission. The hustle of Joseph Blandisi managed to draw four Moose attackers toward him deep in the offensive zone, and when he kicked a pass out to Gustav Olofsson, and the Rocket defender was wide open to score a short-handed goal.
Gustav Olofsson finishes a Joseph Blandisi pass for the shorthanded goal!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 27, 2021
Rocket tie it up late in the first period pic.twitter.com/FEbmaufJYe
Olofsson’s first of the year came with just 27 seconds left in the first period, and sent both teams into the intermission tied at one goal apiece.
While the first period started slowly, the second period was all Rocket in the early going. Their forward lines circled the zone without much difficulty, and that constant pressure drew a penalty to give them a chance to take a second-period lead. As was the story for most of the week, though, Berdin was on top of his game as he denied the Rocket a goal on the man advantage.
Laval wasn’t going to be denied a second goal, though. Not long after the penalty expired, Brook walked down the blue line and let a shot go that rebounded right into the slot in front of two Rocket players. Jesse Ylönen got to the puck first, spun, and unleashed a powerful shot for his second goal of the season.
Jesse Ylönen gets to the rebound and rifles home his second goal in as many games. pic.twitter.com/NjvcdMF98r— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 27, 2021
A holding call on Lukas Vejdemo sent the Moose back to the power play late in the period. Despite killing off 99% of the Manitoba advantage, the last 1% is what tripped up the Rocket when a harmless shot from Cole Maier hit Primeau in the shoulder then flipped up in the air. The puck dropped in behind Primeau, just over the goal line, tying the game with under five minutes left to play in the second.
The period ended without any more goals, but it did have some concern for the Rocket as Guhle appeared to be injured after taking a big hit in the defensive zone. Thankfully, he was back to start the third period, and so was a relentless Rocket forecheck that kept Manitoba under continual pressure in their own zone for the opening minutes of the third. The heavy traffic in front of Berdin ended up yielding another goal for Laval early when Kevin Lynch caught part of a Gustav Olofsson shot and directed it by Berdin for his first goal of the season.
Kevin Lynch gets a stick on a Gustav Olofsson shot and makes it 3-2 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/J1xcGucoMV— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 27, 2021
It was another mental mistake that undid the Rocket later in the period, even with Laval in firm control of the game. Olofsson went to clear the puck from behind his net, but his pass landed right on the stick of Cole Perfetti, and the 2020 first-round pick had no problem beating Primeau to tie the game again.
That tie lasted less than a minute however, as Joseph Blandisi and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard brought the pressure right back to the Manitoba end. It was Harvey-Pinard who came out of a mass of bodies with the puck by the net and he put a pass right where Brook was able to step in and blast home his first goal.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard puts it on a tee for Josh Brook who hammers home his first goal of the year.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 27, 2021
4-3 Rocket! pic.twitter.com/p2jtTxrBYG
With the lead restored, the Rocket had almost two-and-a-half minutes of time to kill against a six-man Moose attack. Even with Guhle and the top line caught on the ice, they managed to fend off the Manitoba attack, and after getting a line change the Rocket saw out the final seconds to secure the win.
Final Score: Laval 4, Manitoba 3
These two teams face off one more time, this afternoon at 4:00 PM, with Lindgren listed as the expected starter.
- Josh Brook (1G, 1A)
- Jesse Ylönen (1G)
- Joseph Blandisi (2A)