Montreal Canadiens: Jesse Ylonen Leads Laval Rocket to Game 2 Victory

LAVAL, QC - MAY 12: Jesse Ylonen of the Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC - MAY 12: Jesse Ylonen of the Laval Rocket (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens were far from a playoff berth this season, but the Laval Rocket finally clinched their first ever playoff appearance. The Habs AHL affiliate is making the most of it, and are now just three wins away from the Calder Cup Final.

The Rocket lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday night. It was a tight game, with the Springfield Thunderbirds ultimately winning 2-1 in overtime. The Rocket were able to respond on Sunday evening to tie the series and steal away home ice advantage going forward.

The victory was sealed thanks to great performances from Jesse Ylonen and Cayden Primeau. A lot of times when an AHL team goes on a deep playoff run it is because veteran players are leading the way and doesn’t really signal future success for the NHL club. There have been some veterans leading the charge for the Rocket, but that wasn’t the case in Game 2.

Brandon Gignac opened the scoring, but it was a quick redirection off a fantastic setup by Ylonen. The 22 year old right winger made a heads up play to stay onside and get possession of the puck at the attacking blue line.

From there, he drifted to the outside enough to draw a defender and leave a wide open lane for Gignac. He then fired a perfect pass to the streaking Rocket forward who tipped the puck between the legs of Charlie Lindgren in the Thunderbirds goal.

Midway through the first, Ylonen stretched the lead to 2-0 when he went end to end and then sniped a wrist shot that Lindgren got a piece of, but it trickled past him into the goal. The Habs second round pick from the 2018 NHL Draft wasn’t quite done there.

Late in the second period, with the Rocket now leading 3-1, Ylonen picked up a cross-ice pass off the rush in the Thunderbirds zone. He quickly corralled the puck, faked a shot, and then zipped a perfect, crisp pass across the zone to Rafael Harey-Pinard for a quick tap-in goal.

While the Rocket have had a successful run in the postseason so far, it had been a quiet playoffs for Ylonen. At least until last night’s game. The Finnish winger had just two goals and three points through the first nine playoff games. Hopefully the big game last night is the start of an offensive explosion from Ylonen.

While Ylonen played a big part in the win offensively, Cayden Primeau was exceptional in goal once again. He has started nine of the ten playoff games and has recorded a 1.91 goals against average and a .939 save percentage in those contests. He stopped 33 of 35 shots last night in another big performance for the 22 year old goaltender.

The Rocket are where they are because of some veteran players leading the way on a deep roster. But, young players like Primeau, Ylonen and Harvey-Pinard are gaining some valuable experience and helping the team win as well.

It would be great to see the Rocket win a Calder Cup. But it is even sweeter when you can see a few young players that are inching even closer to becoming full-time impact players at the NHL level because of the Calder Cup experience.

A Winning Habit
A Winning Habit /

Want your voice heard? Join the A Winning Habit team!

Write for us!

Related Story. Five free agents the Habs could consider. light