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Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scores OT winner as Rocket evens playoff series


Cayden Primeau makes 42 saves as best-of-seven Calder Cup Eastern Conference final now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 Saturday in Laval.

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Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored at 4:06 of overtime to give the Laval Rocket a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds before a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 at Place Bell.

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The win deadlocked the best-of-seven Calder Cup Eastern Conference final at two games apiece. The series resumes Saturday at Place Bell (7 p.m., RDS, TSN-690 Radio, 91.9 FM). The series moves back to Springfield for Game 6 Monday. If a seventh game is necessary, it will be played in Springfield on Wednesday.

Harvey-Pinard’s goal brought an end to a goaltending duel between Cayden Primeau and Joel Hofer. Primeau made 42 saves.

Hofer, a 21-year-old who is tabbed as the goaltender of the future for the St. Louis Blues, stopped 48 shots as he suffered his first loss in eight playoff games.

The Thunderbirds had two excellent scoring chances during a power play late in the third period, but Nathan Todd hit a post and Primeau stopped Will Bitten on a breakaway. It was one of four saves Primeau made during the man-advantage.

The Rocket emerged from a wild first period trailing 2-1 after Jean-Sébastien Dea scored a power-play goal with two-10ths of a second remaining in the period. The Rocket was enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage when Dea won a faceoff with 2.7 seconds on the clock. He went to the front of the net and deflected a shot from Xavier Ouellet for his fourth of the playoffs.

There was no time showing on the clock and the officials huddled over a replay before signalling the goal and lining the teams up for a faceoff.

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Laval outshot Springfield 26-19 in the first, but that wasn’t a true reflection of the action on the ice. Laval had nine of their shots while on the power play for the final 1:39 of the period.

The visitors dominated the first half of the period, outshooting Laval 18-8 and taking a 2-0 lead on goals by heavyweights Mackenzie MacEachern and Dakota Joshua, who used their strength down low to beat Primeau.

The 6-foot-2 MacEachern scored his sixth goal of the playoffs at 3:47 and assisted on Joshua’s goal at 7:26. Primeau made the save on MacEachern, but the 6-foot-3, 206-pound Joshua found the loose puck in the crease.

The Rocket carried the momentum into the second period and tied the game when Cédric Paquette beat Hofer with a harmless looking shot from the left wing at 2:37.

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The Laval penalty-killers continued to do an outstanding job. Springfield went 0-for-3 on the power play with seven shots on goal. The Thunderbirds are now 0-for-18 for the series. Laval has killed 22 consecutive penalties going back to the North Division final against Rochester.

Coach Jean-François Houle made several lineup changes in an attempt to add some experience and muscle. Devante Smith-Pelly and Gabriel Bourque were added up front, while Houle went back to his seven-defenceman alignment by dressing Gianni Fairbrother, who has been out with an upper-body injury since Feb. 5. QMJHL scoring leader Joshua Roy, who made his pro debut in Game 3, was scratched along with Brandon Gignac and Peter Abbandonato.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

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