Providence, RI – Richard Bachman made 41 saves in his season debut and helped the Utica Comets earn a point, but they couldn’t prevail during a shootout in a 3-2 loss to the Providence Bruins on Saturday at Dunkin Donuts Center.
The first period of action saw chances galore, but neither team capitalized on their opportunities during the opening 20 minutes of action. Bachman was fantastic in the period, denying 16 shots on goal from the Bruins, while Dan Vladar made eight saves of his own during a goalie-centric stanza that went into the break in a scoreless tie.
Early in the second period the Bruins broke through and tallied the first of the night after a heady play from Paul Carey, whose dump in was chased down by Robert Lantosi, who quickly sent a shot to the goal. Bachman made a pad save, but the long rebound was one-touched in by Carey for his 12th of the year.
Utica needed 15 minutes to respond, but they eventually did before the break while operating on their second power play of the game. Winning a faceoff and establishing possession, Reid Boucher fired a backdoor pass to Justin Bailey, who easily steered it into the net. The goal was the Comets’ 11th straight game with a power play marker and Bailey’s fourth in a row with a goal.
Breaking the stalemate at the 7:18 mark of the third, former Comet Brendan Gaunce capitalized on a neutral zone takeaway and zipped a wrist shot into the top corner of the net for his seventh of the season.
With under three minutes to go, the Comets generated extended pressure in the attacking zone and, after multiple zone holds from Olli Juolevi, Utica tied the game at two. Juolevi knifed the puck to Reid Boucher who, assisted by a screen from Sven Baertschi, whipped a shot into the top corner of the goal for his league-leading 17th of the season.
The late goal forced overtime, where no winner was generated, setting the stage for a shootout. Scoring in the opening round of the shootout was Lantosi, whose goal was the only one in the skills competition, helping Providence to a 3-2 triumph.
The Comets return to the ice Monday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Puck drop at Webster Bank Arena is at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL TV.
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