UTICA COMETS (23-23-9) vs. BINGHAMTON SENATORS (23-30-3)
The Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.
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Tonight’s game: The Utica Comets faceoff against the Senators for the fifth of six meetings this season. The puck will drop at 7:00 p.m.
Last game: On Saturday, the Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead that carried them deep into the second period. Cody Kunyk responded with 1:02 left of the second frame after the Comets were awarded a double minor power play. Just one minute into the third period, Borna Rendulic scored to tie the game. At 15:21 of the third period, Kunyk scored his second of the night with a pass to the back door from Darren Archibald.
Despite the Senators pulling the goalie for the extra attacker, the Comets held the lead to win 3-2. Thatcher Demko made 30 stops to secure the win in net.
Head-to-head: The North Division rival has beaten the Comets in three of the fourth meetings so far this season. Every game has been decided by just one goal with the Comets winning the most recent game. Despite the slow start to the season series, the Comets are 6-2-1 all-time against the Senators. Darren Archibald continues to lead all players in the season series with four points, all of which are assists.
Scouting the Senators: Binghamton has lost five straight games. The streak began after the team won three straight games. Phil Varone leads the team with 25 assists and 38 points. Rookie Jack Rodewald is tied with Max McCormick for the team lead with 16 goals. Chris Driedger leads the goaltending group with a record of 10-13-2, a 2.94 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. The netminder is second on the team in games played behind Matt O’Connor.
Playoff picture: The Senators are chasing the Comets in the North Division but both teams currently do not hold a playoff position. Binghamton is currently seven games below a .500, which is the points percentage that the Comets currently hold. The St. John’s IceCaps hold the fourth and final playoff spot with a points percentage of .518.
They’re back: The Vancouver Canucks were struck with the mumps this past weekend. This saw a total of five Comets players recalled to the NHL. Joseph LaBate, Alexandre Grenier, Evan McEneny and Jordan Subban were absent from the lineup on Saturday. Borna Rendulic was also recalled to make an appearance with the Canucks earlier this week. All five have returned to the AHL. The lone Comet still in Vancouver is goaltender Richard Bachman. The veteran received the call to the NHL after Jacob Markstrom suffered an injury.
Still streaking: Despite the recall to Vancouver, both defensemen Evan McEneny and Jordan Subban continue their point streak into tonight’s game. McEneny is responsible for six points in five games, registering one goal and five consecutive games with an assist. Subban has a four-game point streak with three goals and one assist.
Finish line on home ice: Following this weekend, the Comets only have three home games remaining in March. After tonight, only 10 home games remain. Five of the last eight games of the season are on home ice. The Comets are tied for the fourth worst point total on home ice with a record of 10-12-5 at The AUD.
Next game: The Comets will be back in action tomorrow night as they take on the Albany Devils. Puck drop from the Utica Memorial Auditorium is scheduled for 7 p.m. Fans are encouraged to utilize the ticket exchange website, StubHub!. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL Live.