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Rocket vs Monsters weekend recap: Laval bounces back to split the two games

An improved game on Saturday followed up Friday’s subpar effort.

Club de hockey Canadien

The Laval Rocket won a marathon shootout on Saturday evening at Place Bell as they won the game 5-4, and split the two games against the Cleveland Monsters in their weekend series. They lost Friday’s game 7-3.

Friday

Penalty killing has been an issue for the Rocket all season, but it really took on a life of its own in Friday’s loss to Cleveland. The Monsters scored on five of their six power play chances in the game in the 7-3 win.

Laval had some chances to score in the first period, but Nicolas Beaudin took a high-sticking penalty and 2022 first-round pick David Jiricek scored his first AHL goal with a bullet from the circle to beat Cayden Primeau.

The Rocket answered back early in the second period with a power play goal of their own. Rem Pitlick scored his first goal of the season on a cross-ice feed from Xavier Simoneau to tie the game at 1-1.

Cayden Primeau made 29 saves in the game, and despite allowing seven goals can’t be to blame. His biggest save came in the second period with the game still tied 1-1.

Cleveland re-took the lead late in the second period when Carson Meyer found Justin Richards alone in the slot for his fourth goal of the season.

The Rocket got into penalty trouble late in the period with Beaudin and Jesse Ylönen both taking penalties. It wouldn’t cost them again in the second, but just 12 seconds into the third period, Trey Fix-Wolansky, who already assisted on Cleveland’s first two goals of the game, scored with Ylönen still in the box to make it 3-1.

Laval fought back. Just 38 seconds after the 3-1 goal, Mitchell Stephens picked up a loose puck in the Cleveland zone behind the defence and finally scored his first goal of the season.

Stephens’ goal made it two goals in the first 50 seconds of the period.

The penalty trouble continued. Beaudin took his third penalty of the game just 1:46 into the third period. Nineteen seconds later, Jiricek scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-2. Beaudin did not play another shift in the game.

Peter Abbandonato made the score 4-3 5:54 into the period, but less than a minute later the Rocket took another penalty. This time it only took Cleveland five seconds to score. Fix-Wolansky scored his second of the game and recorded his fifth point on the night to make it 5-3.

Carson Meyer scored the Monsters’ fifth power play goal (this time, 22 seconds after the penalty started) to make it 6-3 and the final goal was scored at even strength by Roman Ahcan.

Saturday

It was a much better start for the Rocket, but once again David Jiricek made an impact, scoring his third goal in two games just over 12 minutes into the game. He shot the puck from the left point and it got through Kevin Poulin.

The Rocket once again tied the game up at 1-1, again on the power play. Mitchell Stephens streaked into the zone, his first shot was saved by Cleveland goaltender Jet Greaves, but Xavier Simoneau put home the rebound.

Laval outshot Cleveland 17-7 in the first period, but the Monsters continued scoring in bunches in the second period. Owen Sillinger fired a shot five-hole on Poulin to make it 2-1 just 1:30 into the frame. Just 2:37 after, Corey Schueneman left the puck on a platter for Fix-Wolansky who scored his third goal in two games and his 10th on the season to make it 3-1.

This time, the Rocket fought back. First, Brandon Gignac fired a shot past Greaves to make it 3-2.

Just 31 seconds later, Madison Bowey’s point shot eventually fell to the ice behind Greaves where Lucas Condotta pounced on it for his third goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3.

After a turnover at the offensive blue line, Sillinger broke in alone on Poulin and scored to make it 4-3 with 13:01 remaining in the third period.

Laval once again fought back to tie the game. Danick Martel entered the zone and waited patiently before firing his second goal of the year past Greaves. It was 4-4 with just under six minutes remaining in the game.

The game went to overtime, but needed a shootout to resolve things. Rem Pitlick and Cole Fonstad traded goals in the second round, and they were the only goals until Danick Martel and David Jiricek traded goals in round six. Finally, Brandon Gignac scored in round eight and Poulin stopped Samuel Knazko to win the game, leading to a great celebration from the veteran goaltender.

Despite the penalty kill going 1/1 on Saturday, it remains the worst penalty kill in the entire AHL at just 67.6%. Laval outshot Cleveland 52-23 on Saturday.

The Rocket’s next game is Wednesday when they host the Abbotsford Canucks for the second time in exactly a week.

Lineup

After calling out Nicolas Beaudin, Rocket coach Jean-François Houle made several changes to Saturday’s lineup. Beaudin, Joël Teasdale and Jan Mysak were out and replaced with Martel, Nate Schnarr, and Tory Dello. Alex Belzile missed his second straight game with an injury. Alex Green and William Trudeau were also healthy scratches after missing Friday’s game.

Mattias Norlinder took a puck to the face very early in the game and did not return. Gabriel Bourque also left the game early. The Rocket did not have any additional update on either player, and they will be re-evaluated on Monday.

Standings