The Stockton Heat and Laval Rocket had never played against each other before this unusual, shortened AHL season.
Three meetings later, the Heat are still looking for their first victory against their Québécois rivals. Stockton has conceded four goals in each of its last four games, including all three losses to the Rocket.
Most recently, the Heat fell to Laval by a 4-1 score on Sunday afternoon. Michael Stone contributed the lone tally for the home side while goaltender Garret Sparks allowed two goals on 31 shots (Laval added two empty-netters to seal the victory).
Stockton’s biggest loss of the weekend came when Laval forward Yannick Veilleux injured Martin Pospisil with a dangerous knee-on-knee hit in the first period of Sunday’s game. Pospisil tore the MCL and MPFL in his left knee on the play.
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The Athletic‘s Darren Haynes reported the AHL is reviewing Veilleux’s hit to determine whether supplemental discipline is necessary.
Prior to this four-game losing streak, the Heat won eight consecutive games and scored 36 goals over that span. That electric offensive output has recently diminished, with Stockton scoring just nine times in its last four contests.

Projected lineups

These combinations are based on those used in these teams’ respective previous games.
Stockton
Justin Kirkland – Adam Ruzicka – Matthew Phillips
Giorgio Estephan – Glenn Gawdin – Luke Philp
Kris Bennett – Byron Froese – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
Colton Beck – Mark Simpson – Eetu Tuulola
Connor Mackey – Michael Stone
Rob Hamilton – Alexander Yelesin
CJ Lerby – Zac Leslie
Garret Sparks
Louis Domingue
Injured: Martin Pospisil (knee—four to six weeks); Emilio Pettersen (upper body—day-to-day); Colton Poolman (lower body—day-to-day); Alex Gallant (lower body—day-to-day).
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Laval
Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Jordan Weal – Jesse Ylönen
Brandon Baddock – Lukas Vejdemo – Alex Belzile
Joseph Blandisi – Ryan Poehling – Joel Teasdale
Michael Pezzetta – Jan Mysak – Liam Hawel
Corey Schueneman – Otto Leskinen
Tobie Bisson – Cale Fleury
Guillaume Brisebois – Josh Brook
Cayden Primeau
Michael McNiven

Scoring leaders

This listing excludes players on NHL call-ups or assignments to various other leagues.
Stockton — Matthew Phillips (six goals, 15 points in 14 games); Adam Ruzicka (seven goals, 14 points in 14 games); Martin Pospisil (five goals, 11 points in 14 games); Luke Philp (five goals, 11 points in 14 games); Emilio Pettersen (four goals, 10 points in 13 games).
Laval — Joseph Blandisi (six goals, 13 points in 15 games); Ryan Poehling (five goals, 11 points in 15 games); Jordan Weal (four goals, 11 points in 16 games); Jesse Ylönen (four goals, 10 points in 16 games); Joel Teasdale (five goals, nine points in 16 games).
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Players to watch

Stockton  Justin Kirkland. After a rash of injuries, Stockton’s depth on the left wing is starting to look a little suspect:
  • Emilio Pettersen missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day.
  • Alex Gallant has missed seven games with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day.
  • Martin Pospisil was injured on Sunday and is expected to miss four to six weeks with a torn MCL and MPFL.
Those three forwards have all spent significant time on the left side for the Heat this year. Kirkland is Stockton’s only remaining left-winger from opening day and, if Pettersen and Gallant remain on the shelf, he’ll likely be used in a very big role on Tuesday.
Kirkland, 24, has a goal and five points in 15 games this season. He’s been a fixture on Stockton’s penalty-killing team and has appared, at times, on the power play.
Laval Joseph Blandisi. With 101 NHL games under his belt, Blandisi ranks among the more experienced players on the Rocket. He spent time with the New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, and Pittsburgh Penguins before joining the Canadiens’ organization in a trade with Pittsburgh on Feb. 20, 2020.
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The 26-year-old product of Markham, ON scored two goals on Sunday and leads the Rocket with 13 points this season. Blandisi has been a prolific AHL scorer since he graduated from the OHL and has 10 goals and 31 points in his NHL career.

How to watch

This game will be broadcast on AHLTV.com (subscription required), with the opening puck-drop set for 5:00 p.m. MT. Live game updates can be found on Twitter at @miketgould or online at TheAHL.com.