Lukas Vejdemo and Ryan Poehling scored goals and Charlie Lindgren made 16 saves as the Laval Rocket defeated the Manitoba Moose 2-1 at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon.
It was the second straight win for the Rocket, who secured their second straight four game series, going 2-1-1 against Manitoba this week.
It was a great start for the Rocket who dominated the first period. They only allowed one shot on goal in the opening 20 minutes, and scored the game’s first goal. Lukas Vejdemo finished a perfect pass from Alex Belzile and wired a shot past Arturs Silovs, making his first career AHL start.
The goal was Vejdemo’s third of the season, and Belzile was playing his first game of the year after suffering an injury days before the season opener.
“I was watching three games in the stands against Manitoba, I was noticing that they were really tight in the slot so on retrievals, we have a bit more time than when we play other teams,” Belzile said. “So I knew after Otto shot the puck I had time to settle down and make a play and I saw [Vejdemo] with a loaded gun right in the slot so I just put in a spot. It was a great goal.”
Manitoba couldn’t get much going offensively. Their best chance was Cole Perfetti hitting the post. Their first shot would come with under six minutes remaining in the period.
Early in the second period, Laval would extend their lead. At the end of a great penalty kill that didn’t see the Moose get a shot, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard knocked the puck forward to Poehling. He had a clear breakaway and made no mistake to score his second goal of the year.
Officially, the goal was scored just as the penalty expired and would count as an even-strength marker.
The final two periods were much more even on the shot chart, and both teams were working hard. The defences were strong as there weren’t many scoring chances on either side despite the mostly even share of the puck. In addition to the Gustav Olofsson penalty that was killed in the opening two minutes, both teams killed a penalty as the power plays struggled.
Three minutes into the third period, the Moose came out attacking for a goal. After an initial save, Manitoba caught Lindgren out of his net and out of position. The puck came out in front, and Leon Gawanke had a wide open net. However, it was Poehling who slid across to make the save.
Sure he scored the game-winning goal, but Ryan Poehling also saved a goal in what was a 2-1 win. pic.twitter.com/MGqmrCpY2L— Jared Book (@jaredbook) February 28, 2021
“Coach said before that period that when you think things are happening, get back in front of the net and work your way out,” Poehling said. “I did that there, and ended up getting in front of it. I didn’t know [Lindgren] was in the corner so it was nice to be in the right position and take that shot for the team.”
That save would come up big. With two minutes remaining, and the goaltender pulled, Tyler Graovac was left alone at the side of the net and fired home the loose puck to make it a 2-1 game.
Then, with 54 seconds remaining, Leskinen shot a clearing attempt over the glass giving a final opportunity to the Moose with a power play. The Rocket once again shut down the attack, and there was never a real opportunity for Manitoba to tie the game.
After playing eight games already, the Rocket don’t play again until March 8 when they go on a road trip for three games. They will play the Belleville Senators twice in Ottawa before facing the Toronto Marlies. They will then come home for two games before heading on their longest road trip of the season in Calgary and Winnipeg. It will be their only Western trip of the season.
With Kaiden Guhle headed back to the WHL, Cale Fleury returned to the lineup from injury. Jan Mysak, Michael Pezzetta, and Alex Belzile entered the lineup in changes from Friday’s game. Brandon Baddock, Arsen Khisamutdinov, and Joël Teasdale sat out.
Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard said that the plan was always for Teasdale — who had gone almost two years without playing — to play two of the team’s four games this week.
Laval solidified their top spot in the Canadian division, and are currently the only team over .500.