UTICA COMETS (18-18-8) vs. TORONTO MARLIES (21-21-3)
Ricoh Coliseum, 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 faceoff against the Toronto Marlies for the fifth time this season. It is the final meeting in Toronto during the regular season. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m.
Last game: Borna Rendulic opened the game’s scoring at 3:33 with a wrist shot for his fourth of the year. The game was tied in the final five minutes of the first period but Darren Archibald scored 3:27 into the second period. The Wolf Pack tied the game and took the lead in the middle of the second frame.
During the third period, Hartford extended the lead to a 4-2 score. With Richard Bachman pulled in the final minutes, the Comets scored with 12.7 seconds left in the game. Archibald tipped a Jordan Subban shot for his second of the night and 14th of the year. The Comets were unable to even the game in the final seconds and lost by a score of 4-3.
Bachman stopped 23 shots and fell to a record of 9-9-2.
Head-to-head: The Comets won the most recent game against the Marlies on December 7, a 3-2 regulation win. That was the lone game in Utica with the previous three in Toronto. The Marlies won those three games and outscored the Comets 14-5. Brendan Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen lead the Marlies in the season series with seven points. Andreas Johnsson leads all players with four goals. Jordan Subban leads the Comets with three goals and three assists.
Scouting the Marlies: Toronto is currently tied with the Comets for the fourth position, the final playoff seed, in the North Division with a .500 points percentage. The Marlies stumbled in the standings from December 26 to January 14, winning just twice in 10 games. Since then, the team has won six of eight games. Brendan Leipsic leads the team with 38 points in 34 games. Byron Froese leads the team with 19 goals, tied for fifth in the AHL. Garret Sparks leads the team with a 10-6-0 record, a 2.08 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
Same foes: In the next six games, the Comets will see the Marlies three times. With the two teams currently neck-and-neck in the standings, this season series has the potential to create a shift in the standings. In addition, Utica will play Springfield twice in the six-game span leaving Syracuse as the other opponent.
Return: Brendan Gaunce was reassigned by the Canucks to the Comets on Monday afternoon. After skating in 47 games with the Canucks, he returns where he began his professional career. During the season in the NHL this year, the former first-round draft pick amassed five assists and 27 penalty minutes. Last year, Gaunce totaled 17-21-38 with Utica in just 46 games. Despite playing 46 games, he finished second on the team in scoring.
Streaky: The Comets were able to pull together six consecutive wins and eight wins in nine games directly after a nine-game winless drought. Since the six-game win streak, the Comets have not found a win in four consecutive games.
Tough stretch ahead: Thursday will mark the final day of the Comets light schedule to start the month. All-Star break included, the Comets will have played twice in 12 days. Friday night will begin a stretch of 10 games in 16 days. Only six of those games will be against division opponents.
Back on track: The Comets have scored once on the power play in three consecutive games. This comes following a nine-game drought where the team scored once on 30 opportunities.
Next Game: The Comets will square-off against the Marlies once again on Friday night. The teams will meet at the AUD for the second time this season. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL Live.