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Rocket weekend recap & highlights: Three out of four points ain’t bad

Laval solidifies hold on playoff spot after two games against tough opponents

Arena du Rocket Inc.

Logan Shaw scored the winning goal in a shootout as the Laval Rocket fell 4-3 to the Toronto Marlies on Saturday evening at Place Bell. This, less than 24 hours after the team beat the Hershey Bears 3-2 in overtime on Friday night in a tough home weekend against the AHL Eastern Conference’s two best teams.

The Rocket took the lead midway through the first period when a cross-ice pass from Lucas Condotta made its way to Xavier Simoneau who had a wide open net and made no mistake.

Simoneau threw a monkey off his back in celebration as it was his first goal in 16 games dating back to November 19, before his injury that kept him out for about a month.

Toronto was able to tie the game a few minutes later. Gabriel Bourque, who was wearing the captain’s C with Alex Belzile recalled to the Montreal Canadiens, took a shot from the top of the zone. It was blocked, and he fell trying to get the puck back causing a two-on-one for the Marlies. Marshall Rifai kept the puck and fired it past Kevin Poulin to make it 1-1.

Poulin made several big saves in the first period where Laval was outshot 12-4. Laval didn’t get a shot in the final 10:17 of the period after Simoneau’s goal.

With 3.8 seconds remaining in the first period, Simoneau’s clearing attempt went over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Right off of the ensuing faceoff a scramble led to the puck falling right to Nick Abruzzese, who quickly fired the shot past Poulin to give Toronto a 2-1 lead with just 1.3 seconds left in the opening frame.

The Rocket had a chance to tie the game right away as Olivier Galipeau fed Peter Abbandonato with a perfect lob pass. Abbandonato beat his defender and had a partial breakaway but it was saved by Erik Källgren.

Laval did finally tie the game when Pierrick Dubé fed Anthony Beauregard who fired the puck past Källgren. It was Beauregard’s first AHL of the season in his sixth game and his first AHL goal since the 2017-18 season.

Dubé, Anthony Richard, and Abbandonato had another chance near the end of the period but the shot attempts were blocked by the Toronto defence.

It was a disjointed period that saw seven penalties called, and three partial instances of four-on-four hockey. Laval was outshot 12-8 in the second period, and Poulin stepped up with several more big saves as the action was often around his net.

The Rockets started the third period on a power play, and had several chances in the opening minute, but were unable to beat Källgren and the puck was eventually cleared.

Just after the penalty expired for too many players on the ice, Ryan Chyzowski had a partial breakaway and tried to beat Poulin five-hold but was unable to, as the goaltender made the save. A little later in the period Poulin made another big save on a Pontus Holmberg breakaway.

Right after that save, the Marlies went to the power play and took the lead when a passing play between William Villeneuve, Shaw, and Abbruzzese ended when Abbruzzese walked in from the slot and fired a shot past Poulin to make it 3-2.

Laval would push back for the tying goal, but wouldn’t tie the game until there was 5:09 remaining. On a power play of their own, William Trudeau found Anthony Richard at the right circle for a one-timer that beat Källgren.

It was Richard’s 20th of the year and the first sellout crowd of the year erupted as it earned the Rocket a point.

Laval dominated the overtime period, and outshot the Marlies 4-0, but were unable to score the winning goal. Richard had several chances, as did Mitchell Stephens and Mattias Norlinder but Källgren stood tall.

The Rocket did put the puck in the net when Trudeau batted in a RIchard rebound with 1:07 remaining, however he did so with his hand, so the goal was not allowed. The play would be reviewed to see if it hit anything else before entering the net but it did not.

Adam Gaudette and Pierrick Dubé scored in the shootout, but Shaw’s goal in the third round sent the Marlies home with the extra point.

The Rocket have three games next week as they host the Belleville Senators on Wednesday night at Place Bell before heading to Cleveland for two games against the Monsters.

During Saturday’s game, the Rocket overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime on two goals from Joël Teasdale. Teasdale would also score the overtime winner when he tipped Peter Abbandonato’s shot home on a four-on-three power play to secure the win.

Lineup

There were several changes forced by Belzile’s recall to the NHL. Ryan Francis made his Rocket debut. Poulin made his second start in as many days.

With Belzile recalled, Gabriel Bourque was given the ‘C’.

Standings

The Rocket have moved into a playoff spot. The fifth-place team plays a best-of-three series against the fourth-placed team. The winner of that plays a best-of-five series against the division winner.

Toronto has pulled away at the front of the division, and the Rocket have continued their four-game point streak.