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Laval @ Texas recap & highlights: A full team effort gets the Rocket a big win down south

After an ugly game on Friday night, the Rocket got back in the win column on Saturday.

Club de Hockey Canadien

Less than a full day after a thorough 6-1 spanking at the hands of the Texas Stars, the Laval Rocket were back in action in the heart of Texas once again. What had started as a strong game for the Rocket on Friday quickly went awry thanks to a poor showing from the penalty kill in the second period.

Head coach J.-F. Houle opted to make just a few small changes, most notably shifting Alex Belzile to centre between Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Joël Teasdale. Alexandre Fortin was made a healthy scratch, while Devante Smith-Pelly joined the lineup on the fourth line. After making a relief appearance on Friday night, Louis-Philip Guindon was given the start in net, a first career AHL start for the Montreal native.

The two sides traded low-danger chances early on in the first, with both Anton Khudobin and Guindon making a handful of saves. However, the Stars drew the game’s first power play as Jesse Ylönen was a bit too aggressive and took a seat for two minutes. Guindon had to be sharp as the Texas man advantage pressed hard to find the opening goal, but some timely saves and even more timely blocks from the penalty-killers allowed Laval to escape unscathed.

The Stars kept the pressure on following their power play, keeping the Rocket trapped in their own zone. The Rocket were able to find a bit of luck, as Curtis McKenzie was caught slashing in retaliation for a collision in front of the benches, putting Laval on the power play.

Much like the Stars’ first attempt, the Rocket moved the puck around well, opening up a number of good looks, but the steadfast play of Khudobin kept them off the board as the first period approached its conclusion. A late push by the Rocket went for naught and the two sides entered the first intermission scoreless.

A play inside the first minute put Laval back on the power play with Anthony Louis taking a seat for closing his hand on the puck. It took just over 30 seconds for Laval to capitalize as the puck was quickly cycled to Xavier Ouellet at the point and the Rocket captain fired it through an Alex Belzile screen to put the Rocket on top.

The good news continued for Laval as Khudobin took exception to Belzile in front of the net, and took two minor penalties, giving the Rocket a full two-minute five-on-three to work with. Before the two-man advantage expired, Jerad Rosburg was called for roughing up Belzile as well, continuing the Rocket advantage.

The Stars managed to kill the two-man advantage, but the next power play struck paydirt once again. Ylönen did well to find an open shooting lane and he took a Louie Belpedio feed that beat Khudobin, thanks to a tip in front by J.-S. Dea.

The Stare did answer right back though, with Joel L’Esperance converting a Rosburg feed into his 11th goal of the season. Texas then allowed the Rocket to go right back on the power play as Nick Caamano was called for holding behind the play in the neutral zone.

This power play didn’t go as well for Laval, and after an icing call, J.C. Beaudin was called for holding, giving the Stars most of a two-minute advantage to work with. Guindon was busy on the Texas power play, as the Stars hammered a number of chances on net, but the Rocket goalie kept the Laval lead intact.

The Rocket continued to make things hard on themselves as the period wore on, with Danick Martel also taking a penalty, giving the Stars a power play with just over six minutes left in the period. Guindon again came up big on the penalty kill with a massive glove save in the early going to deny the Stars, and before long Laval had killed off another Texas power play to keep their one-goal lead.

A Stars mistake turned into a bit of great fortune for Laval. A flubbed pass out of the Stars’ zone fell to the stick of Peter Abbandonato. The Rocket forward collected the errant pass as he entered the zone and snapped his second goal of the year by Khudobin to make it a two-goal game again.

The period did end with some fireworks as Tobie Paquette-Bisson rocked Ty Dellandrea at the blue line, drawing the ire of Thomas Harley, who started firing punches. At the end of it all, the Rocket had a two minute penalty to kill off thanks to an interference call on Bisson.

The Rocket special teams remained strong to start the third, getting a crucial penalty kill and keeping their lead at two goals. They had to do it once again as Caamano got under the skin of Dea, drawing a cross-checking call with just under 15 minutes left in the game. Even as Texas crowded Guindon’s crease, the Rocket netminder denied them any sort of chance to chip into the Rocket lead as Dea exited the box.

Another Rocket penalty led to the Stars finally getting another puck by Guindon as J.-C. Beaudin sat in the box for cross-checking. Louis continued his domination of the Rocket this season as he blasted in his seventh goal of the season series to make it a one-goal game.

The match continued to be a penalty parade as Jeremy Grégoire was called for hooking deep in the offensive zone, giving the Rocket a chance to close out the game with the man advantage. Texas grabbed control of the puck, allowing Khudobin to get to the bench for a five-on-five finish with the Stars’ net empty.

Some excellent hustle from Teasdale to negate some icings allowed the Rocket to see out the game and bounce back with a massive win over Texas.

Final Score: Laval 3, Texas 2

The team now heads back north to open a two-game series with the Utica Comets in New York starting on Wednesday night.