The Laval Rocket allowed four goals in the third period as a 4-3 lead turned into a 7-4 loss against the Cleveland Monsters on Saturday afternoon in Ohio.
The Rocket got off to a good start, opening the scoring 3:34 into the game when Jesse Ylönen converted the two-on-one feed from Rafaël Harvey-Pinard on a one-timer for his seventh goal of the season. The goal was Ylönen’s third in six games as he is starting to heat up.
The lead didn’t last long. Fifty-four seconds to be exact. On a power play, the Monsters tied the game when Emil Bemstrom fired a one-timer from the left circle past Kevin Poulin to make it 1-1. The Rocket penalty kill — the worst in the AHL at 68.4% — allowed three power play goals in four opportunities.
The back-and-forth start to the game continued when a minute after Cleveland’s goal, Pierrick Dubé scored his second goal of the season after Justin Barron caused a turnover in the offensive zone. He fired the wrist shot past Jet Greaves to make it 2-1.
Barron would double the Laval lead and make it 3-1 with a blast from the point with less than a minute to go in the first period.
The second period started badly for the Rocket. Brandon Davidson scored his first of the season just 16 seconds into the frame, beating Poulin with a long shot from the point.
The goals continued to come in bunches. Again on a power play, Bemstrom scored from the left circle on a one-timer and the game was tied 3-3. It was almost a carbon copy of his first goal.
Laval continued to respond well, however. On a power play of their own, Mitchell Stephens converted a wrap around chance past Greaves as the Rocket restored a 4-3 lead less than two minutes after the Monsters tied the game.
The rest of the period would remain scoreless, as the goaltenders stepped up. Poulin made a save late in the period to keep the one goal advantage. Poulin made 21 saves in the loss.
Kevin Poulin flashed the leather and denied the Monsters a tying goal with 1:22 to play in the second period.— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) December 17, 2022
Feels like he doesn't want his GAA to get an higher today. #CLEmonsters pic.twitter.com/jQXlVqfGvu
Early in the third period, the Rocket penalty kill continued to cost them as they allowed a goal just 1:34 into the final period when Trey Fix-Wolansky fired a shot from the left circle, a third goal almost identical to the two power play goals Bemstrom scored earlier in the game.
Brett Gallant gave Cleveland their first lead of the game when he tipped a Billy Sweezey point shot with 11:19 to go in the game.
Laval was given a golden opportunity to get back to even shortly after. Josh Dunne took a tripping penalty, putting the Rocket on the power play. Despite some chances, they were unable to get the equalizer, and to make matters worse, less than a minute after leaving the penalty box Dunne himself on a wrap around. That made the score 6-4.
The Rocket pulled the goaltender with under five minutes remaining, and Cleveland added an empty netter by Joona Luoto with 4:29 left.
Laval and Cleveland will play again in Ohio on Sunday, with the game starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.
There were no changes from the Rocket’s last game. They once again went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.