FIRST LINE SHINES, ROCKET BEAT COMETS 5-4 (OT)
LAVAL (February 5, 2020) – The Rocket followed their captain’s lead in a back-and-forth duel that saw the Rocket get the last laugh, knocking off the Utica Comets 5-4 in overtime and coming way with a precious two points as they seek to climb the rankings in the playoff race down the stretch.
The Rocket’s big guns starred for them in a high-scoring affair on Wednesday night; Xavier Ouellet recorded four points, including the game winner, Charles Hudon and Jake Evans each netted a pair of goals and an assist, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi added three helpers en route to the victory.
Reid Boucher, the league leader in points, scored his 25th of the season for the Comets. Francis Perron, Guillaume Brisebois, and John Stevens also scored for the visitors, who recovered from one-goal deficits on four separate occasions to force overtime at Place Bell.
Laval demonstrated great resiliency on Wednesday night, however, rebounding in the spare frame to capture the extra point, leaving them just three points shy of Utica in the standings, with one game in hand. They used the man advantage efficiently against the Comets, burying three power plays markers – Evans also capitalized shorthanded.
The Rocket’s perfect night on the power play improved their efficiency to 21.1% on the season, bumping them to 6th among all AHL teams. With a trio of powerplay goals on Wednesday, they extended their streak of two or more powerplay goals to three games, totalling seven dating back to January 31st against Belleville.
Charles Hudon’s first-period goals, with the extra skater, saw him grab the league lead for powerplay goals with 14.
Michael McNiven stopped 31 shots to notch his first win of the season in his first start with the team.
“It was not perfect, but it’s a process. We want our game to be tight, with a good foundation and attention to details […] We had plenty of offense […] I liked that the guys were focused on details and they wanted to play well,” said Joël Bouchard after the game.
LAV: Hudon (Ouellet, Kotkaniemi) | Hudon (Kotkaniemi, Ouellet) | Evans (Alzner, Brook) | Evans (Ouellet, Kotkaniemi) | Ouellet (Hudon, Evans)
UTI: Perron (Gadjovich, Jasek) | Brisebois (Jasek, Juolevi) | Stevens (LeBlanc, Sautner) | Boucher (Camper, Baertschi)
Unités spéciales/Special teams
LAV | AN/PP: (3/3) | IN/PK: (2/4)
UTI | AN/PP: (2/4) | IN/PK: (0/3)
LAV: McNiven (31/35) | UTI: DiPietro (33/38)
Trois étoiles/Three stars
1. Xavier Ouellet – LAV 2. Jake Evans – LAV 3. Charles Hudon – LAV