The Rocket followed their winning recipe to the letter in Saturday’s Eastern finals in Laval: outnumbered, Cayden Primeau shone and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored… but it didn’t happen, wasn’t enough.
The Springfield Thunderbirds leveled the game with a late jump in the third period, and James Neal netted the winner in overtime for a 3-2 win.
Now down 3-2 in the Eastern Finals, the Montreal Canadiens school club will return to the United States with the daunting task of winning two one-shot games if they secure their ticket to the Calder Cup Finals want to get hold of.
This loss is hard for Rocket and Cayden Primeau in particular to swallow. The keeper gave way three times, also slowed down by Nathan Todd and Dakota Joshua, but was the target of 47 shots. He was particularly persistent in outnumbered situations, helping his teammates sell the visitors’ seven power plays.
The Thunderbirds failed to hit a single one of 25 chances with an extra man that series.
Despite the result, another finding cannot be denied. Harvey-Pinard is finally out of his lethargy, he who flashed red lights twice on Saturday.
The Quebecer initially deflected a shot off the point on the power play to score the first goal of the first period. Moments earlier, his retreat had made it possible to end a Thunderbird surplus.
In the second, his shot was deflected off a skate to find the back of the net. If he hadn’t scored in his first nine playoff games, he has now scored five in his last four games.
The series will now move to Springfield where Game 6 will be played on Monday.
Charlie Lindgren got the start against his former team, who started their fourth game in this playoff tournament. He made 25 saves. In Game 2 of this series, he gave up four times in 26 shots. The St. Louis Blues Farm Club lost 4-2.
Goalkeeper Joel Hofer was not suspended despite his shot gesture that sparked a general scuffle in extra time on Friday after Harvey-Pinard’s winning goal. He was Lindgren’s deputy on Saturday.
For that game, Houle made some changes to his roster due to the injuries to Nate Schnarr and Brandon Gignac. So Kevin Roy and Jean-Christophe Beaudin were back.