Belleville, Ont. – Justin Bailey scored twice, Sven Baertschi had three points, and Michael DiPietro made 30 saves as the Utica Comets defeated the Belleville Senators by a 6-3 margin on Friday night at CAA Arena.
For the first time in the last five games, the Comets earned the night’s first goal, as Seamus Malone got Utica on the board. Stefan LeBlanc came up with the puck in the left wing corner before steering a pass to Malone in front, who twisted a backhand to the net that beat Joey Daccord. The lead lasted for about ten minutes before Joe LaBate helped the Senators draw even.
Needing less than two minutes to re-establish the advantage, the Comets were provided a brilliant finish from Carter Camper to go ahead 2-1. Reid Boucher carried the puck into the Belleville zone and swung a feed in front to Camper who out-waited Daccord with a patient deke and buried his eighth of the season.
While operating on a five-minute power play, the Comets generated a two-goal lead on the back of Bailey’s 25th of the season early in the second. After Daccord denied a shot from Baertschi, Bailey spotted the loose puck and rolled it into the back of the net. While on the same power play three minutes later, Rudolfs Balcers earned a shorthanded tally and brought Belleville back within one.
Bailey continued to hold the hot hand in the second, as the team’s second-leading goal scorer chased down a puck in the right side of the Belleville zone and hustled towards the goal. Bailey looked up and snapped a wrist shot that rolled between the legs of Daccord and put the Comets up by a 4-2 margin. Nine minutes later Darren Archibald earned his eighth of the year and cut the Comets’ lead to a goal heading into the second intermission.
Extending their lead in the third period, Utica were provided a breakaway tally by Kole Lind. John Stevens paced an area feed that was collected by Lind who moved in on a break and used a forehand-to-backhand deke to open space for his 13th of the season.
With a five-on-three power play a few minutes later the Comets put the game out of reach with Baertschi capping off a tic-tac-toe passing play in the offensive zone. Baertschi’s one-time finish was his 10th of the year and put Utica ahead by a decisive 6-3 margin.
The Comets return to the ice Wednesday, February 26 on the road against the Rochester Americans. Puck drop Blue Cross Arena is at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHLTV.
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