MONTRÉAL — The Laval Rocket and Stockton Heat squared off at the Bell Centre Sunday evening. The Rocket came into the tilt having won all of their previous games against the Heat. Laval bested the temporarily Canadian Stockton club, extending the team’s lead in the standings.
Out of the gate, both teams stuck to the pace fans have come to expect – a physical, high-intensity, fast-paced game. Laval camped out in the Stockton defensive zone and fired shots toward the net. The only event of the frame came at the 10:41 mark when Carl-Johan Lerby took the game’s first penalty on a roughing call. The penalty killers came up victorious, but Laval doubled down on the game plan – shots on net. The home team peppered the visitors with pucks and earned some good looks but could not figure out the visitors’ backstop.
The Rocket heavily outshot the Heat through the first – 14-1 – but neither team managed to light the lamp.
Même s'il n'y a pas eu de but, c'est toujours un bon signe quand tu as 14 fois plus de tirs que ton adversaire.
Even without a goal, it's always a good sign when you have 14 times the amount of shots of your opponent. #GoRocket pic.twitter.com/FhNVxja0zb
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) April 4, 2021
The second opened to more of the same. Laval launched shots at goaltender Garret Sparks whenever and from wherever they could. They spent most of their time in the Stockton zone and set their forecheck to work. Stockton, looking to build some offense and momentum, finally managed to send more than one shot toward Michael McNiven. Laval maintained their control over Stockton’s shots and chances and limited their foes’ time in the offensive zone.
Byron Froese took the period’s first penalty of the period at 05:23 when he was sent off for slashing. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard gave the Rocket the first lead of the game on the ensuing power play. Ryan Poehling and Jordan Weal assisted on Harvey-Pinard’s marker. At the same time the Rocket took the lead, Josh Brook and Connor Mackey took coincidental roughing penalties to give the game a little 4-on-4 action.
The goalies were the difference-makers in the middle stanza. Sparks kept Laval from running away with the game, and McNiven held Stockton from getting back into the game. Laval had one more shot at the power play at 18:29 when Greg Moro sat for two on a high-sticking penalty. The period expired with 29 seconds left on the penalty.
RHP a marqué le seul but du match sur l'avantage numérique et le système du Rocket, incluant McNiven, s'est occupé du reste jusqu'à maintenant.
RHP scored the lone goal of the game on the PP and the Rocket defensive system, including McNiven, took care of the rest. #GoRocket pic.twitter.com/eteI1untPR
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) April 5, 2021
The Heat killed the remaining penalty to Moro, but a minute later, Yannick Veilleux took a feed from Weal and Harvey-Pinard to extend the home team’s lead. Shortly afterward, Poehling – assisted by Joël Teasdale and Gustav Olofsson – added another to the Rocket’s lead. Dmitry Zavgorodniy – with helpers from Lerby and Alex Gallant – scored for the visitors and gave them a spark.
Halfway through the final frame, the Heat picked up the physicality and started pushing for any sign of life. Sparks was pulled for the extra attacker and Adam Ruzicka – assisted by Alexander Yelesin and Zac Leslie – added one more. Stockton pulled Sparks for one final push, but Veilleux fed the puck to Harvey-Pinard, and the rookie sailed it into the empty net to ensure that his team would walk away with the victory.
La séquence de matchs sans défaite en temps réglementaire du Rocket est rendue à 12! Une belle fiche de 11-0-1 pendant cette séquence!
The Rocket's streak of games without a regulation loss is now at 12 games! A nice 11-0-1 record during that stretch! #GoRocket pic.twitter.com/W3yaIjQAca
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) April 5, 2021
The Rocket sit atop the Canadian Division and hold third place in the overall league standings.
The Rocket are back in action against the Heat Tuesday, April 6 (7 pm EDT) at the Bell Centre.
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