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Laval @ Toronto recap & highlights: It’s Wednesday, you know what that means

The Rocket improved to 10-0-1 in Wednesday games with a wild win in Toronto.

Club de Hockey Canadien

Following a tough loss to the Toronto Marlies in a Monday afternoon matinee, the Laval Rocket were back on the ice in Toronto for a rematch. There was plenty of reason for optimism in the second game, as the Rocket were 9-0-1 in 10 games played on Wednesdays this season. While the lineup was still missing some names due to injuries and COVID-19, the Rocket looked much better on paper compared to some of their games the previous week.

On defence, Josh Brook was inserted into the lineup on the third pair with Tobie Paquette-Bisson, and Joël Teasdale was promoted from the fourth line to the second following the lopsided Monday loss. In net, Cayden Primeau got the start with Michael McNiven serving as his backup for the game.

The Marlies came out strong from the opening puck drop, keeping the Rocket hemmed deep in their own end and not allowing them any space to start their breakouts at all. Despite the heavy pressure, the Rocket didn’t allow any actual shots on Primeau, and with one waved-off icing they were able to set themselves up in Toronto’s end.

Sami Niku controlled the flow, firing through a screen on Joseph Woll and then collecting the rebound to set up another chance. This time Niku walked in before passing off to Tory Dello, who fired a low, hard shot that just trickled through Woll and into the net for the game’s opening goal.

The Rocket used that opening goal to grab control of the game, continuing to stymie the Marlies’ attempts to put anything behind Primeau. It looked as though Laval was about to double their lead as Shawn St-Amant blew by a Toronto defender, but his wraparound chance was foiled and sparked a Marlies breakaway. Kyle Clifford slowly pulled away from Paquette-Bisson and then snapped one past Primeau to tie the game up.

After a nervy first half of the period, things got out of hand in a hurry for both teams. The Rocket looked to have scored, but the puck had only hit the inside of the post not gone in. It didn’t matter much as the Rocket reset after a Marlies push, and the top line once again found the back of the net.

J.-S. Dea poked the puck free and sped toward the offensive zone, suddenly finding himself in a two-on-one situation with Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. Dea calmly waited and slipped a pass to Harvey-Pinard, who rifled it by Woll to restore the Rocket lead.

Toronto scored seconds later as Primeau mishandled a Curtis Douglas shot, and the rebound popped out to Jack Kopacka who tied the game up instantly.

The Rocket were able to draw the game’s first penalty. but the power play wasn’t able to get itself set up and the Marlies looked like they would escape it unscathed. However a failed clearing attempt landed on Xavier Ouellet’s stick, and his shot on net caught part of Danick Martel’s stick as he was cross-checked to the ice, and it snuck by Woll to make it 3-2.

The Rocket had to kill off a Cam Hillis penalty before the period ended, and they did so with relative ease, escaping a wild first period with a one-goal lead.

Period two started with both teams trading chances, with neither side really creating much in terms of dangerous looks. The Rocket’s offensive-zone pressure drew two penalties back-to-back, but the Marlies’ penalty kill frustrated them, keeping it a one-goal game still.

The second period lacked the same goal-scoring excitement of a wild first despite the Rocket owning the puck for most of the period. There were some close calls, but no goals, and the Rocket headed into the final 20 minutes still up by one.

Needing a tying goal, the Marlies came out fast in the third, and much like the Rocket in the second their pressure forced Josh Brook into taking a penalty. Unlike Laval’s power play though, the Marlies were able to convert as Alex Steeves blistered a one-timer through Primeau.

The Rocket seemed content to weather the heavy Marlies attack, and they were able to make their first counter of the period count. Shawn St-Amant continued his impressive AHL form by flicking a lead pass through for Alexandre Fortin to create a breakaway. Fortin broke in on Woll and coolly fired it through the five-hole to put the Rocket back on top with their first shot of the period.

The Marlies continued to dog the Rocket, however, and a Primeau misread allowed them to tie the game up once again. Mac Hollowell grabbed a puck along the half-wall and fired a harmless-looking shot on net, but Primeau didn’t read the angle well and was fooled as it beat him cleanly.

The Rocket again battled back from their sluggish start to the period to deal with the Marlies’ refusal to go down quietly once again. Harvey-Pinard battled for a loose puck in the offensive zone, then teed up a pass into the slot. Joël Teasdale stepped into Harvey-Pinard’s pass and blasted it past Woll to once again give the Rocket the lead.

A late Gabriel Bourque penalty, coupled with Woll heading to the bench for an extra attacker, made for a precarious spot for the Rocket to end the game. However Primeau steadied the ship, and Harvey-Pinard was able to turn a blocked shot into a break up ice, and flung the puck into the empty net to seal a wild win for the Rocket, keeping their Wednesday streak alive.

Final Score: Laval 6, Toronto 4

The Rocket finally head back to the confines of Place Bell for a seven-game homestand, starting with a back-to-back against the Belleville Senators starting Friday.