(Utica) Brandon Gignac scored a shootout goal after scoring and adding an assist in regulation and the Laval Rocket defeated the Utica Comets 4-3 on Sunday.
Philippe Maillet also moved the ropes in the shootout in this fourth victory in a row for the Rocket.
Logan Mailloux and Jared Davidson hit the target for the Montreal Canadiens’ farm club, which had to play with two attackers less from the end of the first period.
“Sometimes, on the road, it’s important to keep it simple,” said head coach Jean-François Houle. We found a way to win with two key players going down in the first period. We pulled together and found a way. »
Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 36 pucks, signing his second victory in as many games since joining the Rocket.
“[Kaskisuo] is excellent. He’s calm in front of the net, that gives us confidence,” said Gignac.
Joe Gambardella, Samuel Laberge and Ryan Schmelzer found the back of the net for the Comets, who lost an eighth straight game. Akira Schmid made 28 saves.
The Rocket also won a first match between the two teams 4-3 in a shootout on Friday in Utica. A third consecutive duel will take place on Wednesday, this time in Laval. Two other matches between the two clubs are scheduled for later in January.
“Three games in a row against the same team is never easy among professionals,” admitted Houle. This is the team we faced in the playoffs last season. It could be quite physical [Wednesday]. »
Gignac was the first scorer in this match, against the New Jersey Devils farm club. He scored between the legs after accepting a pass from Sean Farrell who placed him alone in the slot. It was his 11th goal of the campaign, a Rocket high.
Gignac played his only career game in the National Hockey League with the Devils, in 2018-19.
The Comets, however, responded quickly with a power play. Gambardella recovered a throw return in the slot after a well-executed passing play by his teammates to make the red light sparkle.
Things then got complicated for the Rocket, who lost two attackers before the end of the first period.
Farrell was injured after falling. The American has two goals and six points in seven games since returning after an absence of almost a month due to a lower body injury.
Gabriel Bourque also left the match after being hit in the head by Laberge. Riley McKay came to the defense of his teammate by throwing down the gloves against Laberge.
Defender Brady Keeper also retired to the locker room later.
“The three players returned to Laval to consult the doctors,” Houle simply said.
Playing the rest of the game with just 10 attackers, the Rocket were outshot 17-5 in the second.
“In the second year, there were a lot of things happening in my zone,” Kaskisuo admitted. It’s good to see shots blocked. We then pushed into third and won in a shootout. These are two important points. »
Mailloux broke the tie just 38 seconds into the second period with a point shot. Accomplice on the sequence, Arber Xhekaj obtained at least one point in a sixth game in a row.
Laberge got the teams back on level terms with 4:34 left in the second. He accepted a pass during a two-on-one descent before deceiving Kaskisuo’s vigilance. Schmelzer then gave the Comets the lead for the first time with 46 seconds left.
But the Rocket didn’t give up, offering more inspired and cautious hockey in the third.
“We wanted to stay patient and wait for the opportunity to arrive to score the goal we needed,” explained Houle. After that, anything can happen. We reacted very well and we managed it very well. I am proud of my players. »
Davidson tied the game with his fourth goal of the season. He accepted a pass from Gignac at 8:38 of the third, taking a one-timer to beat Schmid.
Davidson also threaded the needle on Friday, playing his first professional season. Houle also did not hesitate to praise the progress of his young players.
“It’s two big goals from Davidson,” said the instructor. The young people are playing well. It’s good to see their progress. We hope they will continue like this.
“That’s why they’re in the American League. »