|FINAL | 2017-18 Season, Game 27 | Saturday December 9, 2017
Place Bell, Laval, QC
Forward lines and defense pairings:
[one_half]Gregoire – Cracknell – Terry
[one_half_last]Taormina – Lernout
Simon Bourque, Willie Corrin, Zach Fucale
Michael McCarron (ear), Jeremiah Addison (shoulder)
There weren’t many positives to take away from the Rocket’s 3-1 loss to the Marlies on Friday night, except for maybe the celebration of the team’s first Teddy Bear Toss. But when the two teams faced off at Place Bell again on Saturday afternoon, it seemed that memories from the prior game had been erased.
Laval came out strong in the first period, with some new-looking lines that saw Jeremy Gregoire promoted to the first line and Markus Eisenschmid up on the second line. Michael McNiven was selected as the starting goaltender on this day, with Calvin Pickard taking position in the opposite crease.
Despite getting two penalties in the opening frame, the Rocket’s penalty killers did their job admirably. Chris Terry and Niki Petti combined for what could have been an exciting shorthanded goal, but Petti couldn’t get the puck to go.
On the offensive side, Laval showed a much stronger presence than in the past two games. They outshot Toronto, drove to the net hard, and peppered Pickard with pucks. Defensively they were much tighter as well, notably with Noah Juulsen staying right with a Marlies skater on a breakaway to take away his chances of a dangerous shot on McNiven.
The second period was a complete turnaround for the Rocket, and not in a good way. Andreas Johnsson, fresh off of a suspension, wristed the puck top shelf after battling through traffic to make it 1-0 for Toronto.
On a few occasions, McNiven made the crowd gasp with some less-than-stellar puck handling behind the net which led to some close calls. However at other times, he was making solid saves and reading the puck very well.
Terry then potted a filthy-looking goal from the boards as he wristed it from down low and went bar down on Pickard to even the score at 1-1.
Then the scoreboard started to light up like a Christmas tree. Jeremy Bracco scored his first AHL goal after which Yannick Veilleux took a boarding penalty. While he was serving time in the penalty box, Petti and Stefan Leblanc combined for a pretty short-handed goal to tie the game again, 2-2.
However immediately following this goal, Laval allowed Frederik Gauthier to go in tight, deke around the paint and put the puck into the net. Moments later, after stopping him twice on breakaway attempts, McNiven saw Kasperi Kapanen wrist the puck from the right faceoff circle and out of reach into the mesh. The score was 4-2 at the end of 40 minutes.
The final frame went from bad to worse. Once again, at the halfway point in the final frame, the Rocket had only mustered one shot on goal in the period. Then Daniel Audette took an unnecessary penalty by elbowing Travis Dermott in the head, knocking off his helmet and sending him flying. Audette was assessed a game misconduct to finish his night early.
19 SOG. Four power play chances. Eight penalty kills. A game misconduct. Allowing goals or taking penalties right after scoring goals. Laval has to find a way to stop shooting themselves in the foot before they can begin to right this ship. They now have the rest of the week to practice and focus before heading to Charlotte for a weekend series against the Checkers next Saturday and Sunday.
▲ Chris Terry, Noah Juulsen, Niki Petti, Jeremy Gregoire
▼ Kyle Baun, Thomas Ebbing, Daniel Audette
|0 for 4||Power Play||2 for 8|
|AHL Three Stars|
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report
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