UTICA COMETS (30-25-9) vs. ALBANY DEVILS (34-27-4)
Times Union Center, 7:00 p.m.
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets do battle with the Albany Devils. Puck drop for the eighth and final meeting of the regular season begins at 7 p.m.
Last Game: The Comets defeated the Providence Bruins by a score of 5-2 this past Sunday. Jake Virtanen struck first blood just eight minutes into the game for his seventh goal of the year. Four minutes later, Alexandre Grenier found the net on a partial breakaway to put the Comets up 2-0 through the first 20 minutes. The onslaught continued when Michael Carcone punched in his third of the year halfway through the second period. Curtis Valk extended the lead to 4-0 on a heads up play finding a loose puck behind Zane McIntyre for his 16th of the year. Austin Czarnik finally got the Bruins on the board four minutes into the final period. Chris Porter buried a rebound three minutes later to cut the deficit in half. Cody Kunyk would add a later empty net goal to seal the win. Thatcher Demko finished with 28 saves to improve his record to 18-12-4 on the year.
Head-to-Head: The Comets lead the season series with a record of 5-1-1. The Comets have won three consecutive games against the Devils, most recently winning 3-0 on March 4. Darren Archibald and Pascal Pelletier lead all scorers with five points apiece. The Comets have outscored the Devils 19-12 through the seven games.
Scouting the Devils: Fresh off a 3-1 defeat to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Devils come in with a .554 points percentage on the year, good for 3rd in the North Division. Albany also comes in on a four game winless skid and are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. With their top two point scorers in New Jersey, Ben Sexton and Brian Gibbons lead the active roster with 31 and 30 points, respectively. Ken Appleby leads the goaltenders with a 16-12-1 record, a 2.45 GAA, and a .908 save percentage.
Division Dominance: The Comets have been hot against teams in the North Division over the last month. Utica has won five consecutive games and have racked up at least one point in eight straight games over divisional opponents.
Getting It Done: Pascal Pelletier has been a key component to the Comets’ offense as of late. Pelletier has tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in his last six games. This includes back-to-back multi-point efforts on March 12 vs. Binghamton and March 17 vs. Syracuse. The veteran forward has totaled 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 44 games with the Comets this year.
Shut It Down: A big factor to the Comets’ recent success is the stellar play of their penalty kill. The Comets have killed off 22 of 25 penalties in the month of March and have not allowed back-to-back games with power play goals against since mid-February. The penalty kill ranks 13th in the league at 82.4%.
Playoff Push: The Comets look to keep pace in the North Division as the season winds down and the playoff race heats up. The Comets currently sit in 5th place with 69 points and a .539 point percentage, with two games in hand over St. John’s, who holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. Nine of the next 12 games come against North Division opponents, including a showdown with the IceCaps on April 9.
Next Game: The Comets return to action tomorrow night against the Syracuse Crunch in game 10 of the Galaxy Cup series. Puck drop from the War Memorial at OnCenter is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL Live.