After a hectic weekend at home, the Laval Rocket hopped on the bus to take the 401 to Toronto to face the Marlies. The last time these two teams met, the Rocket notched a shutout victory in a game strewn with punches and penalties in the dying minutes.
The Rocket entered the game with a distinctly different appearance from this game, with Michael Pezzetta, Alex Belzile, Cayden Primeau and Ryan Poehling since called into the NHL, while Cole Caufield found himself in Laval to kick his game a bit. offensive. With Primeau called, the net belonged to Michael McNiven, who was looking to establish a rhythm and get his form back on track.
Laval jumped out of the gate, hammering the Marlies into their own end of the ice and taking a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes. Some strong goalkeepers from Erik Källgren kept the game going scoreless and brought the momentum back in favor of the Marlies quite suddenly.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to clear the Rocket, the puck was shot on goal by Marc Michaelis, and McNiven was unable to cover it in the stampede that followed. Brett Seney took the opportunity, jumping into the fray to push the puck through the Rocket goalie and give Toronto a lead against the run of the game.
The goal tipped the ice for Toronto as they began to invade all of the Rocket’s puck carriers. Soon after, they had locked the Rocket in their own area again and were looking to add another goal.
It looked like McNiven had turned them down early with a massive scrambling save, but the puck wasn’t covered yet and Michaelis fed Josh Ho-Sang on a cross pass to double the Marlies’ advantage.
The second goal woke the Rocket up as they looked to keep the game close at hand towards the end of the first period. Following the trend of Toronto’s goals, the Rocket’s first goal came on a messy scramble into the crease. Kevin Roy surprised Källgren behind the net, catching the wandering Marlies goaltender, and his pass found Rafaël Harvey-Pinard in front. Harvey-Pinard pulled away as Källgren tried to get back into his net, but the pesky winger managed to slip his second of the season at home.
A late power play from the Rocket represented a chance to score the tying goal for Laval, but the Marlies’ penalty kill held the Rocket at bay to end the first period.
The Rocket’s momentum continued into the start of the second period, even though they were whistled for too many men on the ice. Seventh-seeded Laval shorthand looked extremely solid as it gave the Marlies no real chance to fall into place. A fine solo run from Corey Schueneman helped eliminate the minor penalty.
Cole Caufield also started the second steal, swaying among the opponents and creating chances on a long change of attacking zone. However, after wreaking havoc with a shot, the Marlies goaltender injured himself and had to be replaced by Michael Hutchinson.
After that, the Marlies’ top line got back to work against the Rocket and from behind the net Michaelis registered his third assist of the night as Seney burst through the defense to bury his chance.
After a failed power play, things worked out quickly for the Rocket. A shot from Mikhail Abramov took off from the post and McNiven failed to find the loose puck, allowing Joey Anderson to bring it home with his skate to give Toronto a three-goal lead.
That lead quickly grew to 5-1 as Semyon Der-Arguchinstev cleaned up an Alex Steeves shot that leaked through McNiven, ending a frustrating night for the Rocket goalkeeper.
To their credit, Laval didn’t take the deficit deep down, as they continued to push back the Marlies and even found another goal. Louie Belpedio’s big shot bounced off Xavier Ouellet, who fired one on Hutchinson. The goalie didn’t cover the entire puck, allowing Gabriel Bourque to lift the puck over him and make it a three-goal game before the third period.
An early power play in the third didn’t work, but the Rocket got another man-advantage chance moments later, and this time the second unit made him count. Schueneman held the puck along the blue line, eventually bringing it through the area to Belpedio. The Rocket defenseman entered the face-off circle and managed to outsmart Hutchinson to give Laval a well-deserved life.
The Marlies threatened to extend their now tenuous two-goal lead as Ouellet headed to the box for a hook. Once again, the Rocket’s penalty stole the show, with Lukas Vejdemo taking off from the ice and snatching a shot at the bar and suddenly making it a one-goal game.
After a poorly timed penalty from Tobie Paquette-Bisson, the Rocket found himself in a delicate position. That’s until a brilliant shorthanded run from Laurent Dauphin resulted in an appeal for the Rocket and sent the game four on four. With all the extra space, Caufield hit paydirt in typical Caufield fashion. He recovered a free puck with speed in the neutral zone and rushed into the Toronto zone. With no defenseman able to keep up, he threw a nasty flick to wipe out the four-goal deficit altogether.
Kevin Poulin kept the door sealed from there and, improbably, the Rocket and Marlies went into overtime.
If the third period belonged to the Rocket offensive, the extension was entirely devoted to Poulin. The Rocket goalie was there for every Marlies’ premier opportunity, including a spinning stick stoppage to deny Seney a hat trick and force play to a shootout.
Because nothing between these two teams can ever be normal, the teams went nine deep shooters before the Rocket put them away for good. Caufield scored from the start and was tied by Ho-Sang for the Marlies. After Joey Anderson scored in the head-to-head part of the event, it was Vejdemo who put in a nice shot to keep the shootout going. Then, after Pavel Gogolev was pushed back by Poulin, Harvey-Pinard buried a magnificent backhand shot and the Rocket completed the miraculous comeback.
Score final : Laval 6, Toronto 5 (SO)
The Rocket are now out until Saturday night when they travel to Belleville to start a three-game series with the Senators at 7 p.m.