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Rocket vs. Senators recap & highlights: Cayden Primeau helps Laval claim a point

It was another strong effort, but not enough to grab both points at Place Bell.

Laval Rocket

It was a night of returns at Place Bell for the Laval Rocket as a few missing players made their comeback to the lineup. Brandon Gignac stepped back in just as Gabriel Bourque exited due to an injury, but the Rocket also brought up Riley McKay from the ECHL as an insurance policy.

Also returning was starting goaltender Cayden Primeau, who had missed most of this season on recall with the Habs and due to an head injury sustained while sitting on the bench. He got the nod in net against Belleville with Kevin Mandolese opposing him for the Senators.

Laval continued its trend of jumping out of the gate quickly, piling up a handful of chances in the opening minutes while holding the Senators to zero shots. The Rocket’s pressure forced Belleville into taking a hooking penalty, giving Laval a chance to open the scoring in the opening six minutes. However, they quickly neutralized their own advantage as Mitchell Stephens was called for slashing, which in turn handed the Senators an abbreviated power play after the four-on-four period ended.

The Rocket penalty kill handled the short advantage with no issues, generating more on their short-handed counter-attacks, and went right back to work pushing for an opening goal ... until Joël Teasdale caught Brennan Saulnier with a high-stick, drawing blood and a four-minute penalty. The penalty-killers were again up to the task of slowing down the Belleville power play, and with a lucky bounce off the crossbar they kept the game scoreless as the first period passed into the final minutes.

Xavier Simoneau’s pesky nature drew a late power play for the Rocket, and this time they made it count. After Primeau shut down Rourke Chartier’s short-handed chance, Laval went the other way and Joël Teasdale was right on the spot to finish off a quick passing play in front of the net.

Teasdale’s goal capped off a strong opening period and allowed Laval to enter the first intermission with a deserved lead.

The Senators flipped the script to start the second period, finding much more space to operate in, and as a result they tested Primeau repeatedly. The young goalie was up to the task as the Rocket offence did what it could to push back, with Anthony Richard again being a leading force.

Laval’s injury luck impacted another key player as Joël Teasdale was clearing the front of the net as a shot from the point came in. The puck hit Teasdale square in the mouth, leaving him bloodied, but able to leave the ice under his own power.

The Rocket, having survived the push from the Sens to start the second period started their own takeover of the game, but much like Primeau, Mandolese could not be budged by the Rocket’s attack. Even with the cage yawning after a deflected shot, Mandolese was able to get his pads kicked out to deny Peter Abbandonato what looked like a tap-in goal.

The Senators’ frustrations were clear as the period came to a close, with Scott Sabourin trying to stand as close to Primeau as possible after the whistle and Jake Lucchini throwing some extra cross-checks as the period closed. However, after 40 minutes it was still Laval on top by a goal.

Belleville’s anger boiled over again as the third period got under way, with Jonathan Aspirot getting dinged for unsportsmanlike conduct and smashing his stick in the box for good measure. Before the power play could score or end, the Senators decided to jump William Trudeau and Peter Abbandonato, and when the penalties were sorted out it was a short two-man advantage for Laval. Before that advantage expired, Lucas Condotta went off of interference, giving the Sens a power play of their own.

Shortly into their power play, noted Rocket-killer Jake Lucchini buried the tying goal.

Forty seconds later, the Rocket and Sens took coincidental holding penalties resulting in another stretch of four-on-four hockey. Neither side used the extra ice to its advantage, and as it often does between these two sides, the result was still in the air as regulation hurtled towards a conclusion.

As it turned out, 60 minutes were not enough for the North Division rivals, and the game headed to overtime with a second point on the line. It looked like Laval was going to end it with a win in the opening moments as Trudeau fed Richard off a rush, but Mandolese was there to deny the Rocket All-Star.

The Sens got the last laugh once more as a broken a play led to a three-on-two rush. With Mattias Norlinder trying to cover two spots at once, it allowed Scott Sabourin to bury the winning goal.

Final Score: Belleville 2, Laval 1 (OT)

The Rocket will now head out on the road, starting a two-game series in Cleveland on Friday night against the Monsters.