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Devils Too Much for Comets

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Dec 31, 2015

Despite scoring the game’s first goal the Utica Comets failed to snap their losing streak against the Albany Devils on Thursday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. After Jon Landry’s first period tally, the Devils scored four unanswered goal for their ninth straight victory against the Comets.

The Comets scored their second power-play goal in as many games eight minutes into the game. With the man advantage, the Comets were able to set-up the power play in Albany’s zone. Positioned at the blue line Subban received a pass from Zalewski and quickly relayed the puck over to Landry. Landry wound-up and fired a slap shot from the high slot that found its way through traffic in front and into the back of the net.

The Comets maintained their lead for only five minutes before the Devils tied the game back up. Jim O’Brien skated his way through three Comets defenders and into the slot before he wristed a shot over Bachman’s shoulder to tie the game at 1-1.

The game remained tied until the 15:25 mark of the second period when, for the first time in the game, the Devils were able to take the lead. The play started when Calvin McKelvie sprung Reid Boucher on a partial breakaway. Boucher skated in from the right hand side and snuck a shot in short side on Bachman.

In the third period the Devils added two insurance markers, one from Graham Black at the 12:31 point, and an empty-net goal from Paul Thompson.

With the home loss the Comets record fell to 16-11-3-2. The Comets penalty kill pitched another perfect night and killed all four penalties. The Comets stymied the Devils top-ranked power-play unit in both games of the series and completed the two-game set 8-for-8 in kills.

The Comets end their busy week on Saturday when the St. John’s Ice Caps make their second trip to The AUD. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

ALBANY DEVILS (17-8-4-0) @ UTICA COMETS (16-10-2-3)
Utica Memorial Auditorium, 5p.m.
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile

Tonight’s Game: Tonight the Utica Comets will attempt to avenge last night’s loss to the Albany Devils in the conclusion of home-and-home series at The AUD. The Devils currently sit in second-place in the North Division with 39 points, with the Comets trailing just two points behind them in fourth-place with 37.

The Comets have collected a point in 14 of their past 16 games, including a point in seven straight games, heading into tonight.

Last Game: The Comets gained their first point against the Albany Devils in franchise history on Wednesday night. Previously, the Comets had never gained a point in their seven previous meetings. This was the third game in a row that the Comets gave up the first goal of the night to the other team. They were able to make a late comeback and carry it into overtime, but fell just 58 seconds into the extra period. Blair Jones and Hunter Shinkaruk provided the goals for the Comets.

Scouting the Devils: The American Hockey League’s best team on both the power play and penalty kill have been a streaky team as of late. After winning seven straight games from Nov. 20 to Dec. 11, the Devils proceeded to lose their next four games before beating Providence 4-1 on Saturday. During their seven game winning streak the Devils filled opponents’ nets at a 3.14 goals per game clip, while allowing just one goal per game. The script was flipped during their four-game losing streak, as the scored one goal per game compared to their opponents to score an average of four goals per game. With leading point-scorer Mike Sislo (13-10-23) currently on recall with the parent club, Matt Lorito (5-17-22) is the Devils’ interim point-leader. The Albany Devils received a big boost to their roster recently when the New Jersey Devils reassigned 2014-15 AHL MVP and Calder Cup Champion Brian O’Neill to their AHL roster. The former Monarch scored his first AHL goal of the season on Saturday. In net, Yann Danis and his fifth-best goals against average of 2.01 has appeared in 24 of the team’s 29 games.


Streaker: When asked if he would be giving his stick out to a fan after being named third star on Sunday, Brendan Gaunce replied with an unwavering “no.” You can’t blame him, that stick has Gaunce on a career-best, and current league-best six game point streak. In that stretch the 2012 first round draft pick of the Canucks has picked up four goals, and four assists, as well as a +8 rating. Since Gaunce returned from an injury on December 9th, the team is 6-1-1-1 and he has collected 10 points (4-6-10) in the process.

Top Scorer: In the past two games Hunter Shinkaruk has added to his team-leading points total by picking up a goal and an assist. Shinkaruk picked up the assist on Sunday, totaling twelve assists for the season. He also gained a goal point when he scored his 13th goal of the season against the Devils last night. With 25 points, Shinkaruk currently sits in 15th place among the top scorers in the league.

Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-9-2-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 14-1-0-1.

Next Game: The Comets play their first game of the New Year, and first of just four home games on Saturday night when the St. John’s IceCaps return to The AUD. Puck Drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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