On Thursday night the Laval Rocket saw their six-game winning streak come to a crashing halt against the Manitoba Moose. The Rocket were cruising into the final moments of the game when the Moose scored twice with the extra attacker to force overtime. They then stole a second point as Nathan Todd scored the only goal in the shootout, and left Laval stunned in Winnipeg.
The loss wasn’t the only bad news the Rocket had to deal with either, both Lukas Vejdemo and Alex Belzile were ruled out of the remaining games against the Moose, and would undergo further examination after to determine the severity of their injuries. While the top six stayed the same, the bottom six saw Arsen Khisamutdinov, and Liam Hawel draw back in, while the defensive pairs remained the same. Cayden Primeau got the nod in net after Michael McNiven started the previous night.
After struggling to push the Moose early on Thursday, the Rocket jumped out to a quick start, very similar to their wins over Stockton. A long stretch pass from Jake Lucchini went to Ryan Poehling, creating an odd-man rush situation. Poehling chipped a leading pass towards the net and Joel Teasdale directed it by Mikhail Berdin for Rocket lead, just under three minutes into the game.
Another day, another goal from Joël Teasdale and the Rocket's top line pic.twitter.com/4sVNvSBp5e— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 26, 2021
It looked like the Moose had tied it a few minutes later as a pinballed shot almost made its way over the goal line. Primeau dove on the loose puck, just barely keeping it out as the official stood right over the goal to make sure.
That was the best chance Manitoba had in the first period, as the Rocket slowly got their feet moving and put the pressure on the Moose going into the first intermission.
It was the Rocket pushing early in the second period, but a high-sticking call against Hawel put the brakes on as Laval had to kill their first penalty of the night. The Moose power play looked a lot like a Rocket one though, as even shorthanded the Rocket kept the puck in the Manitoba end. Without much of an issue, Laval got the play back to even strength with their lead still intact.
The Rocket gave up a breakaway almost immediately after when Bobby Lynch snuck behind the Laval defenders. The Moose forward broke in on Cayden Primeau but the Rocket netminder was more than up to the task, sealing off the ice and giving Lynch nothing but pad to shoot at.
Then Laval did what they do best, just circling the zone, testing Mikhail Berdin with a number of chances from all angles. The Russian goaltender yielded nothing for the Rocket. The only time Laval was truly in any sort of danger was due to icing the puck, on two separate occasions it nearly cost them a goal. With the Rocket’s tired skaters on the ice, the Moose relentlessly pushed trying to find the back of the net, but a defiant Primeau came up with some big saves to keep the Rocket in front.
Laval looked like they might have escaped the period unscathed, but a late holding call on Michael Pezzetta put the Rocket shorthanded for the final 20 seconds of the period. They did manage to handle that with ease, but had to contend with a 1:40 of a Moose power play to start the third period.
Nathan Todd nearly tied it almost immediately on the abbreviated man advantage, ringing a powerful shot off the crossbar behind Primeau, but luckily for the Rocket it bounced off the post and away from the net. While the Rocket killed the penalty, the Moose continued to press hard against the Laval defence, not allowing them to generate any kind of breakout from their own zone.
It looked like the Moose were primed to score at any moment, but with their first bit of pressure in the period, the Rocket drew a high-sticking call, giving them their second power play of the night. It lasted all of just six seconds as Jordan Weal immediately took a cross-checking penalty and pushed the play to four on four.
The defensive stalemate continued, even with the extra space on the ice, and the best chance of the four on four came to the Moose, but the leg of Brandon Baddock prevented them from sweeping it into the open net.
Berdin vacated his net with just under two minutes left to play after the puck was chipped out of play and the Manitoba bench called for a timeout. Laval nearly scored into the empty net, but Joseph Blandisi was denied as he drove to the net on his forehand. The Moose then charged right down the ice and Dylan Samberg pounded another shot off the post behind Primeau, and the ensuing rebound was smothered by the Rocket defenders. One final clear, and some stalling boardwork from Joel Teasdale helped to close out the game as the Rocket handed the Moose their first shutout loss of the season.
Both teams have a day off on Saturday, but will meet once again on Sunday afternoon for their third of four games.
- Cayden Primeau (Win, 19 Saves, Shutout)
- Joël Teasdale (1 G)
- Mikhail Berdin (18 Saves)