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Rocket @ Canucks recap & highlights: A defensive disasterclass ends a rough weekend for Laval

It was another night to forget for the Rocket defence and goaltenders.

Laval Rocket

Less than 24 hours after a wild 12-goal game between the Laval Rocket and Abbotsford Canucks, the two sides squared off again on Sunday evening. Following an extremely uneven performance in the previous night, head coach J.-F. Houle made a few changes to his lineup.

First was the healthy scratch of forward Danick Martel, with his spot being taken by Joël Teasdale on the fourth line. With Jan Mysak also out injured, the Rocket switched to an 11-forward, seven-defenceman alignment, allowing Justin Barron to return from his minor injury. In net it was again Kevin Poulin and Arturs Silovs doing battle after a night to forget for both on Saturday.

The previous night’s game had taken an apparent toll on both sides, as the opening minutes featured very few shots for either side, and much less pace. The Rocket, however, had a massive opportunity to pile up some goals as the Canucks took a double-minor for high-sticking, closely followed by a delay of game call for a two-man advantage.

While the power play proved effective previously, the opening effort from the Rocket was anything but. They had looks on net, but nothing that overly troubled Silovs as the Canucks managed to kill off their minor penalties.

Laval maintained control of the game following their long power play, but were still unable to find an opening goal. To make matters worse, the Rocket faced a penalty kill of their own, and the Canucks appeared to have scored less than a minute into it before it was waved off upon review. In the end, the decision mattered little as 20 seconds after the puck was dropped, the Canucks took the lead on a Justin Dowling goal as he slammed a rebound by Poulin.

Further adding to the issues, to end the period, Mattias Norlinder and William Trudeau took penalties eight seconds apart, leaving Laval down two men to end the first period. Will Lockwood scored for the Canucks with one second left to play in the period to send the Rocket to the locker room down two goals and with plenty of work to be done.

Laval survived an early-second-period penalty kill, and looked like they were on the verge of getting themselves onto the scoreboard. However, a miscommunication between the forwards in the defensive zone allowed Wyatt Kalynuk to fire a third goal past Poulin.

Laval had a chance to stop the bleeding as they went to a power play of their own with about 13 minutes left in the period. The Canucks continued to stifle the Rocket, killing off the minor penalty and instantly putting Laval back on their heels until a Noah Juulsen penalty put the Rocket back on the man advantage. It looked as though the power play was going to strike out again, but Alex Belzile sent Peter Abbandonato a great leading feed that allowed Abbandonato to tuck home his seventh goal of the year.

Another Canucks penalty set the table for the Rocket to claw their way back into the game. Silovs had to be in top form as the Rocket circled and circled with chance after chance, but had no luck on adding to their goal total.

However, there was a bit of luck for the Rocket and it allowed them to cut the Canucks lead down to just one goal. Gabriel Bourque fired a shot into traffic, and after it was knocked down, Lucas Condotta fired a blind backhand shot on goal that Silovs never saw. It became a 3-2 game with just over a minute left in the second period.

The Rocket continued to pour on the pressure to start the third period, but Silovs also kept them at bay as the minutes ticked off the clock. Eventually the Canucks were able to swap the pressure, and with Teasdale and Condotta mixing up their coverage, Kyle Rau was able to restore a two-goal lead for Abbotsford. That goal chased Poulin from the game, bringing rookie Joe Vrbetic into the fray.

The two-goal lead soon became three as Simoneau collided with Norlinder in the defensive zone, giving Vasily Podkolzin all the space he needed to wire one by Vrbetic.

As he had done many times before, Anthony Richard refused to let the Rocket go out quietly, and he took a pass from Rafaël Harvey-Pinard to break in and bury his 15th goal of the year to make it a 5-3 game.

With the minutes winding down, the Rocket worked hard to get the puck deep into the offensive zone so they could pull Vrbetic for the extra attacker. They did so, and repeatedly threatened to make it a one-goal game late, but a Lane Pederson empty-net goal put the end to any comeback hopes.

There was a bit of rough stuff in the final seconds as Teasdale collided with Silovs, drawing the ire of the Canucks and eventually forcing the officials to end the game before the final faceoff to avoid any more scrums breaking out to end the night.

Final Score: Abbotsford 6, Laval 3

It was another extremely disappointing effort on multiple levels for the Rocket, even more so with Kent Hughes in attendance. The team now has nearly a week off before it collides with the Belleville Senators in a two-game series at Place Bell starting on Friday night,