Toronto, Ont. – Reid Boucher scored his league-leading 15th of the year late in the third period and helped propel the Utica Comets past the Toronto Marlies by a 4-3 score on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.
As the two teams battled through the first, it was the Marlies who struck first with former Comet Tanner MacMaster opening the scoring. Driving to the net to receive a pass, MacMaster kept his stick on the ice and re-directed a feed from Pontus Aberg at 11:50 of the action.
Utica earned a power play minutes later, and the extra manpower paid dividends for the Comets. As Boucher crossed into Toronto territory, he flung a rink-wide pass to Kole Lind, whose one-touch pass landed on the tape of Sven Baertschi. Baertschi slipped behind the defense and wired a snap-shot into the top corner of the net for his fourth of the year.
With under two minutes remaining in the period, the Marlies re-established their one-goal lead after Kenny Agostino finished a backdoor play to put his team up 2-1 through one period.
Roaring back with another power play marker, the Comets evened the game at the 9:49 mark of the second period. Baertschi set up the action at the left-side circle and steered a perfect pass through the slot and to the back post for Justin Bailey, who easily re-directed the pass into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season. It was the only tally of the second period and sent the teams into the intermission facing a 2-2 gridlock.
Early in the third, the Comets forecheck provided Utica the opportunity to take their first lead of the game. Carter Camper forced a steal on a relentless effort, and his centering feed off the takeaway found Lind, whose one-timer appeared to be stopped, but the puck trickled through Joseph Woll and rolled over the goal line.
As the trend of former Comets scoring continued, Darren Archibald tied the game for Toronto at the 8:47 mark, putting back a rebound for his fifth of the year.
With time winding down, the Comets continued to pressure, eventually breaking through with under five minutes to go. Reid Boucher hustled down the right wing side and into the Marlies zone, where he flung a wrist shot over the short-side shoulder of Woll and put Utica ahead, 4-3. The one-goal lead was enough, as the Comets slammed the door down the stretch on their way to a divisional win.
The Comets are back at it tomorrow afternoon for a rematch against the Marlies. Puck drop is at 4 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHLTV.
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