Pavel Gogolev jumped on his own rebound to score the overtime winner 1:20 into the extra period as the Toronto Marlies beat the Laval Rocket 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Gogolev’s fifth of the year ended a hard-fought, low-scoring affair. Laval had some chances in overtime on Joseph Woll, including Rafaël Harvey-Pinard alone in front. In the end Gogolev came back down the ice on a two-on-one to score the winning goal.
The loss was Laval’s third straight, and their longest losing steak of the season ahead of their final game of the season on Monday night.
Jordan Weal, who has been one of Laval’s best players throughout the season, but especially the last month, forced overtime when he pounced on the loose puck with 1:26 remaining in the third period.
Alex Belzile’s shot hit off of Laurent Dauphin and fell to the ice in the crease when Weal was able to put it behind Woll.
In the fourth of five straight games between the two teams, there was a lot of carry-over animosity. Laval and Toronto games always have high intensity, and these games, even with nothing really at stake, were no exception.
Weal got things going by getting a scoring chance on a partial breakaway in the game’s second minute, but couldn’t beat the Marlies goaltender.
Shortly after, Toronto came back with a chance of their own, but with McNiven out of position, it was Corey Schueneman who kept the puck out.
After a whistle, with 12:53 remaining, Dauphin and Belzile got into a skirmish with Toronto players. As the officials were breaking up the two teams, Yannick Veilleux and Tyler Gaudet decided to fight. Veilleux has been a thorn in the side of the Marlies, both causing havoc and creating scoring chances.
The Marlies opened the scoring on the game’s first power play. After Belzile took a tripping penalty, Colt Conrad found Calle Rosén alone in the slot. Rosen fired a wrist shot past McNiven with 8:49 remaining in the period. It was Rosén’s fifth of the year.
The physical play continued when Cale Fleury — who sat out Friday’s game as the team eases him back into the lineup — connected with a solid hip check in the period’s final minutes.
The coaching staff has said that they want Fleury to be a physical presence, and he has had big hits in both of his games since returning from his injury.
Only 42 seconds into the second period, the Rocket tied the game. Tobie Paquette-Bisson started the play with a long stretch pass to Dauphin who led Harvey-Pinard on a breakaway and the newly-signed forward made no mistake with a backhand to beat Woll for his ninth goal of the season.
Dauphin’s two assists in the game extended a six-game point streak and he has three goals and nine assists in his last nine AHL games.
That, however, was the only shot the Rocket would get in the entire second period. Toronto wasn’t dominating possession — they only had six shots of their own — but did a great job of getting into shooting lanes and making life difficult for Rocket attackers.
The perfect road period got even better when they gave themselves a 2-1 lead midway through the second frame. Fresh off his opening goal, Rosén made an incredible slap pass right on the stick of Kalle Kossila. Kossila put the puck in the open cage for his sixth of the season.
Despite not counting as a shot on goal, Harvey-Pinard once again got behind the Marlies defence and drew a hooking penalty on Teemu Kivihalme. His backhand attempt would go wide.
Laval continued to fight back in the third. Despite taking two penalties in the period, they were setting the pace. They had several short-handed chances but were unable to beat Woll. Cale Fleury notably had a chance of his own. Shortly after a Rocket shorthanded chance, it appeared that the Marlies extended their lead.
With under eight minutes remaining, Stefan Noesen tipped a shot behind McNiven but the referee ruled that it was tipped with a high stick and there was no goal on the play. The AHL does not have video review this year as some of their arenas did not have video due to teams switching arenas due to the pandemic. Because of that, they wanted a universal rule instead of some games having video review and others not.
McNiven, for his part, came up huge in the third period as well. He made several huge saves to keep it a one-goal game and allow the team to be within striking distance before Weal’s tying goal. The goaltender made 24 saves.
The two teams will meet for the fifth straight game on Monday night at the Bell Centre. It will be both teams’ final game of the season.
Cale Fleury drew back in after the team gave him a scheduled day off on Friday. The team’s trainers didn’t want him to play four games in six days. Terrance Amorosa sat out. McNiven got the start after Cayden Primeau started on Friday.
Josh Brook left the game early in the second period with what appeared to be a right leg injury. The Rocket were already using him at forward because of the lack of available bodies up front, and much like the Montreal Canadiens were to finish their regular season, are literally limping to the finish line.