Montreal Canadiens: Laval Rocket Steal Win With Terrific Third Period

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 22: Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens are still awaiting when their next game will be played but the Laval Rocket continue to pile up points in the AHL standings.

The Rocket played the third game of a four game set against the Manitoba Moose last night after losing the opener in a shootout and winning the rematch 1-0.

Things didn’t look great for a while last night.

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However, a big third period allowed the Rocket to come from behind and secure the victory, stretching their points streak to nine games. They have an 8-0-1 record in that stretch, with their only loss coming when they blew a two goal lead with just 22 seconds to play against the Moose on Thursday.

Last night’s game got off to a slow start as it was quite the defensive battle early on. Nearly halfway through the first period, the shots were 1-0 for Manitoba. For a while, I thought the shot clock was broken until the Moose finally registered the first shot on goal about 5 minutes into the game.

Moose left winger and Winnipeg Jets first round pick Kristian Vesalainen opened the scoring, but the Rocket quickly answered as left Wigner Rafael Harvey-Pinard snapped home a goal from in tight. The goal was set up by defenceman Corey Schueneman who did some nice work down low with the puck to draw plenty of attention and all for Harvey-Pinard to get open.

The Rocket would fall behind 3-1 and things looked pretty bleak for a little while. Goals by Kristian Reichel in the second period and Leon Gawanke in the third period put the Moose ahead by a pair with less than half of a period to play.

Then, the Rocket exploded for four goals in the final six minutes of play.

Ryan Poehling opened the flood gates when he pounced on a loose puck in front of the Moose net and jammed it past Mikhail Berdin. The goal was set up by some nice stick handling from Jordan Weal who got the puck to the net before Poehling poked it home.

Just 11 seconds later, Hayden Verbeek would pounce on a brutal turnover and tie the game. It was Verbeek’s first game of the season and he scored a huge goal with just over five minutes to play to erase the Moose lead.

Just over two minutes later, Weal would score the eventual game winner, capitalizing on another turnover in the Moose defensive zone. A great forecheck from Weal and then Harvey-Pinard forced the turnover, and Weal snapped the puck in from the top of the slot.

The Rocket took a penalty with 1:59 to go but did a tremendous job limiting chances throughout the game and wouldn’t allow a tying goal this time. The Moose had one miraculous comeback earlier this week but it wasn’t in the cards tonight.

Joe Blandisi sealed the win when the team’s leading scorer scored a long distance empty net goal with 23 seconds to play.

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The Rocket improved their record to 14-4-2 and are well ahead of all four other teams in the AHL’s Canadian Division. Cayden Primeau stopped 20 of 23 shots in the win. Laval’s next game will be Tuesday night when they close out their four game set with the Moose.