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Rocket @ Comets recap & highlights: Kevin Poulin steals two points in overtime win

The Laval goaltender kept his team in the game.

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

It didn’t start well for Kevin Poulin, but the goaltender was the star for the Laval Rocket in their 3-2 overtime win against the Utica Comets in Utica on Wednesday night.

Poulin made 41 saves including 22 in the second period in he win. He started the game, and was backed up by Joe Vrbetic as Cayden Primeau remained in Montreal after needing five stitches for taking an errant stick on the bench when he was backing Poulin up last weekend.

The Comets opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. Nikita Okhotiuk passed the puck down low and it was tipped by Jack Dugan at the side of the net at the goal line before going over Kevin Poulin and ending up behind the line.

Laval was able to control play for the first part of the game, despite the scoreline. Lucas Condotta had a chance after he was lost in coverage, but was stopped by Utica goaltender Isaac Poulter. A few seconds later, Brandon Gignac had a breakaway but was stopped by Poulter.

The Rocket went on the power play, but it didn’t start off well as the Comets quickly had a two-on-one but the puck missed the net. Play came back the other way, and the Rocket were able to tie the game. Corey Schueneman’s shot was saved by Poulter but the rebound went right back out into the slot where Rafaël Harvey-Pinard picked it up and put a backhand shot over Poulter.

The Comets took over the game momentarily after the Harvey-Pinard goal. Between the goal at the 9:07 mark of the first period and the 12:23 mark of the second period (23:16 of total game time), Utica had 27 straight shots on Poulin. The Comets were helped by three Laval penalties in that stretch, but the Rocket penalty kill and their goaltender stood tall and kept the game at 1-1.

They were quickly rewarded. At the end of that sequence, Poulin even drew the next penalty for goaltender interference, allowing the Rocket to go on the power play. Once again, they took advantage. Harvey-Pinard put the puck towards the front of the net, and it hit Anthony Richard in the chest and bounced into the net to give the Rocket the most unexpected 2-1 lead. The goal would be reviewed as it could have hit his arm, but it was ruled a good goal.

For those keeping track, the Rocket scored on two shots in a row, over 24 minutes apart, while Utica failed to score on the 27 shots they took in between. The shots were 5-3 for the remainder of the period in favour of Laval.

Utica did eventually tie the game midway through the third period when Reilly Walsh pounced on a turnover and fired a wrist shot past Poulin from the slot.

The game remained tied until the last minute of overtime. Schueneman won the game for the Rocket when he came back from his own end on a two-on-one rush and fired the winning goal past Poulter with 36 seconds remaining.

The Rocket penalty kill, which remains among the worst units in the AHL was 4/4 on the kill on Wednesday night, and was a key part in the win, along with timely goal scoring, and the play of Poulin.

Laval now will head out west to Abbotsford, BC for two games against the Canucks on Saturday and Sunday before returning home.

Lineup

The Rocket are starting to get a bit healthier as Gabriel Bourque and Mattias Norlinder returned to the lineup. As mentioned, Cayden Primeau did not make the trip and Poulin’s backup was Joe Vrbetic. Alex Belzile is nearing a return and went to Utica but did not play in the game.

Standings

The Rocket are creeping back up towards the .500 mark but have work to do after a tough start to their season. It looks as though the North Division will be very close throughout the season and there are a lot of divisional games to go.