Binghamton up by a goal late in the third period lost the lead and eventually the game as the Laval Rocket beat the Devils 4-3 in overtime in front of a sellout on fan appreciation night on Saturday. It was an entertaining event for two teams out of the playoffs as the barn was jumping one last time for the 2018-’19 season with one game to go on Sunday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Also took place was Team Awards presentations before the start with players being recognized by their teammates and staff, but I’ll get to that a little later. First and foremost is how the Devils lost and an injury suffered to their goaltender in OT.
Blake Pietila opened up the scoring in the first period with a one-timer that was set-up by John Quenneville as he fell to one knee and beat Laval netminder Michael McNiven for his team-leading 20th of the season.
The Rocket would tie it in the middle frame as Michael Pezzetta appeared to kick the puck past Cam Johnson but nonetheless, the goal counted. Then it went to a 2-1 lead for Laval when a powerplay wrist shot by Xavier Ouellet had eyes for the back of the cage. But the Devils staged a comeback with two late goals 17 seconds apart.
John Quenneville waited in the circle as Eric Tangradi provided a screen and was able to put one past McNiven for a powerplay goal and his 18th of the season. Then rookie Jeremy Groleau recorded his first professional marker with a sharp backhander from within the hash marks that sailed top shelf to give Binghamton the lead with 11 seconds remaining in the second.
At 19:10 in the third with McNiven pulled for the extra attacker, Nikita Jevpalovs intercepted a bad clearing attempt by John Ramage from behind the net and was able to beat Johnson glove side to send it to overtime.
With Johnson coming up with several good saves and the Devils coming close to winning it, he was knocked down to the ice as Ramage clipped his helmet off skating by and appeared to be shaken up. After being attended to Johnson stayed in but he clearly wasn’t all there and should have been replaced by back-up Logan Thompson.
It was just minutes afterward when Jevpalovs scored on a breakaway on a trick shot through the legs as Johnson wasn’t 100% with possible concussion-like symptoms.
Line-Up, Game #75
Forwards: Tangradi - McLeod - Bastian, Quenneville - Pietila - Anderson, Seney - Schmelzer - Lappin, Baddock - Sharangovich - Studenic
Defensemen: Hammond/Jacobs, White/Ramage, Groleau/Gryba
In Goal: Cam Johnson, Logan Thompson
Scratches: Brian Strait, Eddie Lack, Blake Speers, Nikita Popugaev, Nick Saracino, Ryan Murphy, JD Dudek, Ludvig Larsson, Brandon Gignac and Alex Krushelnyski
Post Game Notes
- G Evan Cormier and D Colby Sissons sent to Adirondack for the playoffs as the Thunder are down 2-0 in the first round to the Manchester Monarchs.
- A Devils’ goal was waved off that would have put them in front in the second period as a penalty was handed out on Michael McLeod for interference. Fans voiced their displeasure's as a minute later the Rocket scored on the powerplay. It’s been that type of season as poor officiating has been the new norm in the AHL.
- D Jeremy Groleau has looked really good for a player in only his fourth pro game. Poised and handles the puck well while pretty consistent on the blueline and a beauty for his first pro goal to go along with an earlier assist.
- With Cormier in Adirondack and Johnson doesn’t look too promising, the team has one game left tomorrow as Thompson looks to make his AHL debut. Logan played in 8 games for the Thunder this season so he’s going to need a back-up and that remains to be seen.
- Loud chants from the sellout crowd throughout the night as a car was given away for the annual event, except for the first time it went to the first contestant when the key unlocked it.
- Awards were as follows; 7th Man - Ryan Schmelzer/John Ramage, Defenseman - Colton White, Forward - Nathan Bastian, Man of the Year - Tariq Hammond, Rookie - Michael McLeod, 3 Stars - Brandon Gignac, MVP - Nathan Bastian.
#1. Nikita Jevpalovs (2g, 1a), #2. Jeremy Groleau (1g), #3. Blake Pietila (1g, 1a)
The weekend concludes on Sunday as the BDevils travel to play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the final game of the season.