The Belleville Senators have gone perfect in the 2018 American Hockey League preseason, after coming back to beat the Laval Rocket 4-2 at CAA Arena, on Saturday night.
20 year-old Filip Gustavsson got the start in goal for Belleville after backing-up Marcus Hogberg on Friday.
His first real test came about 3:00 in, when Lukas Vejdomo got in off a long break-out feed and fired a hard wrist shot, but the young Swedish netminder stood his ground.
Belleville got a good chance not long after with Jim O’Brien picking up where he left off on Friday.
The veteran forward snuck in on a shorthanded breakaway, but got stopped by Etienne Marcoux, trying to go to the backhand.
Belleville would open the scoring at 6:56, with a power play goal courtesy of Logan Brown, his second in as many nights.
In almost a carbon copy of his Friday night goal, Brown set up at the bottom of the right circle and Drake Batherson zipped a pass across the crease, which he one-timed to the back of the net.
Laval drew even about a minute later, as the Rocket got in on an odd-man rush and Nikita Jevspalov’s low shot beat Gustavsson between the left pad and the post.
Chase Balisy made his Senators’ debut after being out of the line up as a healthy scratch Friday and almost found the net, taking a long pass from Jordan Murray and breaking in, but he couldn’t stuff it past Marcoux.
Gustavsson was tested on another breakaway late in the period, when Sens’ defenceman Christian Wolanin had a puck hop over his stick, leading to a long break-in by Alexandre Grenier, but Gustavsson stood strong and kept it out.
Laval would take a 2-1 lead late in the period, after Jake Evans knocked a rebound past Gustavsson, following a long point shot through a crowd.
Early in the second, another B-Sens rookie had a good scoring chance when Aaron Luchuk pounced on a bad Laval clearing attempt but couldn’t beat Marcoux.
Throughout the period Belleville had trouble finding gaps in the Laval defence, going 7:30 minutes into the frame without a shot and had to deal with a much more aggressive Laval forecheck than they did on Friday.
Neither team was able to find the net in the second and Laval made a goaltending switch midway through, putting Michael McNiven in for Marcoux.
There was a scary moment early in the third when Jim O’Brien got tangled up with a Rocket player along the near boards and couldn’t get back to his feet.
He was helped off the ice, favouring his right leg and didn’t return to the game.
Laval had the majority of the offence early in the third, but it was Belleville who were able to find a spark and push back in front.
After a line juggle, that saw Rudolfs Balcers join Batherson and Brown, the Latvian fed a long pass ahead to Batherson, who got in on a breakaway and missed high.
But the B-Sens stayed with the play and Brown eventually returned the favour, finding Batherson open on the left side and he wired a shot past McNiven, to even the score 2-2.
Belleville went in front 2:49 later, when Jonathan Racine flipped a high pass into the neutral zone for Andrew Sturtz, who fought off a Laval defender, settled the puck in the slot and found the top corner to give Belleville the 3-2 lead.
Brown would also bury an empty netter to make it 4-2 and cap off the comeback.
He told reporters post game the preseason success has him ready for the regular season to begin next week.
It was the final try-out for spots on the opening day roster, as B-Sens Head Coach Troy Mann said he planned to cut his roster fro 34, to close 22, after the game.
The B-Sens will likely announce their roster cuts on Sunday and open the season in Utica against the Comets on October 6th.