While the Belleville Senators only secured two of a possible six points against Laval in this series, there were signs of improvement.
For example, in the last set of three games, Belleville was outscored 13-4. This time around, they were dead even at six goals a piece. Heading into the last series, Belleville was dead last in PK success, having a 60.9% success rate. Through these three games, Belleville allowed one goal against on the penalty kill, while successfully killing off nine opportunities.
In the first game of the most recent series, Belleville downed the Rocket with a decisive 3-0 victory. The game was a relatively uneventful one, with only three powerplay opportunities between each team. However, the BSens managed to compile 28 shots on net compared to Laval’s 18.
The scoring started and mostly finished in the first five minutes of the first. To kick things off, Alex Formenton was up to normal Alex Formenton things - using his speed to blow past a defender and cash in his third goal of the season.
Egor Sokolov would give the BSens a two goal lead just under a minute later by pouncing on an unsuspecting defender, doing his best Mark Stone impression by stealing the puck, waltzing into the opposing zone and firing one into the back of the net. The celebration capped it off perfectly.
Logan Shaw added a third goal for Belleville in the third period while Filip Gustavsson secured a shutout for the win.
The second game was good, but not great. The Rocket managed to put the BSens in the same position Belleville put them in the game before - down by a pair of goals and scrambling to catch up. Close to the end of the third, Vitaly Abramov did get Belleville on the board to make things interesting but, off the next faceoff, Laval regained their two goal lead and that was it for this one. Gustavsson was incredibly busy, stopping 45 shots in the 3-1 loss.
In game three of this series, the BSens were looking to secure their first mini-series win of the season and this game was particularly interesting. To start, former Ottawa 67s goaltender Cedrick Andree got his first professional start, facing 27 shots, stopping 24 of them.
Belleville had seven opportunities on the powerplay compared to Laval’s six. That is a ton of special teams time, so the fact that we only saw five goals scored between both teams was quite surprising. With a 1-0 lead heading into the second, another Belleville Senator secured their first professional goal of the season as Cole Reinhardt fired a puck on net that squeaked through traffic. Lassi Thomson and Abramov had the helpers.
Cole Reinhardt has his first career AHL goal! (if Alex Formenton didn't tip this one out front)— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 15, 2021
Lassi Thomson picks up his 4th assist of the season on the play, and good guy Sokolov retrieves the puck#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/FmyV8q2eHe
Once again, Laval tossed a grenade at the BSens by scoring just 20 seconds after Belleville tied things up. Fortunately, Joseph LaBate would tie things up halfway through the second. The goal was originally thought to be Robert Calisti’s first of his AHL career but it hit LaBate on the way through.
With just a few minutes left, and the game deadlocked at two, Ryan Poehling gave the Rocket yet another lead and this one would be the final lead of the game.
The Second Line
Head Coach Troy Mann has a tendency to find a line and let it simmer. This is the case for what is now Belleville’s second line of Sokolov, Reinhardt and Mark Kastelic. The size and skill between the three has been evident - and 33% of the goals Belleville scored in this series were thanks to these players.
Shaw continues to be an excellent veteran AHL acquisition for the BSens. The newly minted captain compiled a goal and two assists and, through ten games, leads the team in primary points per game.
Davidsson may not have been a big name on the scoresheet for Belleville in this series - in fact, he wasn’t on the scoresheet at all - but he currently leads Belleville in even strength goals for %. The BSens score more even strength goals while Davidsson is on the ice than when he’s off it. Appearing to be completely healthy (he says, with every finger and toe crossed), Davidsson looks like the speedy, smart player Sens fans were hoping to see when he was acquired.
We watched what felt like three different teams in three different games. In the first, we saw dominance. Belleville outshot and outplayed Laval. In the second, it was the literal opposite. Laval had 48 shots to Belleville’s 17. In the final game, we witnessed two teams battling from start to finish, with an almost equal shot share and a game that wasn’t decided until the final few minutes.
Belleville has been without Logan Brown for a few games now and Jonathan Aspirot, the top left handed defender on the roster, looks like he will miss some time as he’s having an MRI in the coming days. Olle Alsing has also been out the past few games but appears to be heading back to practicing normally with the team as soon as this week.