Laval @ Toronto recap & highlights: The Rocket run into a brick Woll

Despite a huge shot disparity, the Rocket fell to their division rivals on Sunday.

After a wild game on Friday night against the Manitoba Moose that saw the Rocket fall in overtime, the team headed into Ontario for just their second meeting with the Toronto Marlies this year. There were two changes for J.-F. Houle’s side with John Parker-Jones joining the fourth line for Pierrick Dubé, and Kevin Poulin getting the start over Cayden Primeau.

The Rocket arguably had the better looks in the opening minutes, with the fourth-line group hemming the Marlies in deep and both Nate Schnarr and Parker-Jones getting looks in front of Joseph Woll. The Marlies, however, took advantage of the Rocket momentarily falling asleep to open the scoring.

Mac Hollowell fired a long stretch pass to Adam Gaudette, who appeared to be offside, but the officials didn’t blow the whistle despite Laval’s protest. With Gaudette in alone due to Laval stopping their skating, he was able to flick the backhand by Poulin to make it a 1-0 game.

A Kyle Clifford penalty put Laval on the game’s first power play as he took a seat for high-sticking Santino Centorame in the defensive zone. It looked as though the Marlies were going to escape unscathed after mitigating chances from Laval’s top line, but the second unit for the Rocket found their goal with just three seconds left. Xavier Simoneau chipped a puck to Joël Teasdale in the slot, and Teasdale buried his chance to make it a 1-1 contest.

Following Teasdale’s goal the ice titled directly in the Rocket’s favour, and the shot totals began to reflect that very quickly. Shots jumped from 10-5, to 15-6, then, when the Rocket found themselves on a late power play, 20-6 in favour of Laval. While on their second power play of the night, the Rocket managed to draw a second call and went to a short two-man advantage to end the first period.

While they were frustrated by Woll’s steadfastness the Rocket were in full control of the game, and had a minute of power play time to start with in the second period.

The Marlies kept the Rocket power play from striking to open the period, but just as Toronto looked to be settling into the game and attacking, Joseph Blandisi found himself back in the box for tackling Olivier Galipeau in the offensive zone. The Rocket power play failed to generate much push with the advantage, but once they returned to even strength they continued to pepper shots on Woll.

Even with Laval owning the shot counter and control of the game, a Rem Pitlick penalty threatened to break the deadlock with the Marlies going to the power play. It took just 30 seconds for Toronto to work the puck to Bobby McMann, who fired it off the post and in to put Toronto ahead with just over eight minutes to play.

Tempers flared shortly afterward when Lucas Condotta bumped into Woll, resulting in a quick fight behind the Toronto net.

The even-strength play again didn’t last long as Alex Belzile drew a hooking call in the middle of the ice, and before the Rocket power play could do much of anything, they also took a penalty moving the game to four-on-four. Laval fended off Toronto’s abbreviated advantage to keep the deficit at just one goal, but the Marlies as a whole were starting to command more of the game.

A last-minute high stick sent Laval back to the power play. Again Woll was incredibly sharp and Toronto escaped the second period with their lead intact, but facing another power play to start the third.

Failing to find a goal on the remaining power-play time, the deficit soon grew as Alex Steeves deflected a long-range shot by Poulin to make it a two-goal Toronto lead.

Laval didn’t take long to cut that deficit back to a single goal, however, with Peter Abbandonato speeding around Marshall Rifai towards the Marlies net. Abbandonato drew a penalty while in the process of slapping a shot on net. As the puck bounced around, it was Gabriel Bourque who corralled it and put it behind Woll to make it a 3-2 game.

The Rocket again pressed Toronto hard, and were punished off of one simple turnover in the neutral zone. William Trudeau couldn’t handle a puck in his skates and it kicked off a three-on-one rush the other way. McMann buried his second goal of the game to restore Toronto’s two-goal lead.

With 4:20 left to play and an offensive-zone draw in front of them, the Rocket pulled Poulin to try to cut into Toronto’s lead, but would be doing so without their top defenceman in Nicolas Beaudin. As the Rocket surpassed 50 shots, they had a last-minute power-play chance with Gaudette going to the box.

The two-man advantage quickly became one as Teasdale took an uncalled high stick to the face, threw off his gloves, and exited the ice. The discarded gloves ended up blocking the last scoring chance the Rocket had, and that closed out the game. Despite a 41-shot advantage, the Rocket dropped the Sunday evening contest.

Final Score: Toronto 4, Laval 2

The Rocket now venture into Rochester for a Wednesday night contest with the Americans.

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