Comets Storm Back for Crucial Win
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Mar 29, 2016
After being held scoreless through two periods of play, the Utica Comets outscored the Rochester Americans 3-1 in the third period to pull out a come from behind win to defeat the Amerks, 3-2, at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday night.
Mike Zalewski (1-0-1), Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1), and Carter Bancks (1-0-1) scored for the Comets, while Richard Bachman stopped 36 shots in net, including some stellar saves to keep the Comets within striking distance early.
The Amerks were able to find the back of the net first just 5:16 into the opening period. Justin Bailey intercepted a Comets pass in front of the Utica net, spun, and fired a wrist shot past the stick of Bachman for the 1-0 lead.
Utica kept the puck in the Rochester zone for a lot of the second period, but couldn’t find a way to get it past Linus Ullmark despite some good chances, and allowed the Amerks to bring their 1-0 lead into the third period.
The Comets started the third period on the penalty kill but came out firing on all cylinders, and scored a short-handed goal just 21 seconds in. Zalewski received a pass from Friesen, made a move towards the slot to beat a defender, and buried a wrist shot to the glove side of Ullmark in his first game back from an upper body injury.
Rochester took the lead back after back-to-back holding penalties were called on the Comets just 29 seconds apart. While on a three-on-five disadvantage, Chad Ruhwedel sent a pass to Matt Ellis, who brought the puck to the front of the net and finished off a backhander for a 2-1 Amerks lead.
Utica didn’t go away easily tying the game again with 9:15 remaining in the third. Grenier stole the puck from an Amerks defender behind the net, took it to the front of the net, and squeezed a shot past Ullmark for his 14th goal of the season.
The Comets took their first lead of the game with just 55.5 seconds to play in the third period. Hensick controlled the puck at the point, slid a pass to Shields who was stationed at the right point. Shields put a shot on net that Ullmark turned aside. After a scramble in front of the net, Bancks was able to punch it in to give the Comets a big 3-2 win.
The Comets had a total of 36 shots on goal, while the Amerks finished with 27 shots. Linus Ullmark made 33 saves in goal for Rochester.
With the win, the Comets improve to 33-23-7-4, while the Rochester loss drops the Amerks 32-32-2-1.
The Comets will stay at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday, as they welcome the Springfield Falcons to town. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets welcome their intrastate rivals, the Rochester Americans, to The AUD for the last scheduled contest between the clubs this season. The Comets hold a 5-2-0-0 edge in the season series, and a 16-11-0-0 all-time edge.
The Comets are currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 75 points, while the Amerks are in fifth place in the division with 67 points. The Comets magic number to clinch a playoff spot resides at 15 points with 10 games to go.
Last Game: The Utica Comets offense exploded for five goals in a 5-1 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday evening.
Kellen Jones (1-1-2), and Curtis Valk (1-1-2), who scored his first career AHL goal, both enjoyed multi-point nights, while Ronalds Kenins (1-0-1), T.J. Hensick (1-0-1), and Jon Landry (1-0-1) also added goals. Joe Cannata made 35 saves in his 18th win of the season.
Scouting the Americans: Playing in their seventh game in the last 14 days, the Amerks have lost four of their last five games after losing 3-1 to the Crunch on Saturday. At the trade deadline, the Sabres and Senators made seven-player trade that made an immediate impact for both clubs. Two of the player’s the Amerks acquired, Cole Schneider (19-32-51) and Eric O’Dell (23-22-45), immediately took over point-leader duties for their new club. The duo have combined for 17 points (7-10-17) through their first 11 games in Rochester, and have led the Amerks to a 5-1-0-0 record when they both record a point in the same game. Expected starter tonight, Linus Ullmark, has faced the Comets four times this season and has been highly impressive. He has compiled a 2-2-0-0 record, a 2.02 goals against average, and a .946 save percentage. By comparison, the Swedish netminder possesses a 10-11-0 record, a 3.27 goals against average, and .906 save percentage on the season.
Bachman vs. Superman:
Tonight’s game has the makings of an epic goaltender’s duel. Richard Bachman is expected to start in net for the Comets and he has been lights out versus the Amerks. In three games against the New York State rival, Bachman has posted a sparkling 1.68 goals against average, and an impressive .945 save percentage.
Cold-Blooded Killers: The Comets penalty-killing unit is the best in the league at home with a success rate of 91.6%. The unit has killed 63 of their last 67 penalties at home (94%), including 45 of their last 49. Overall, the Comets penalty-kill is fifth in the league with an 85.9% conversion rate and have killed off 60 of their opponent’s last 64 power-play opportunities.
Next Game: The playoff push continues with a Friday night date against the Springfield Falcons. Puck drop from the Utica Memorial Auditorium is scheduled for 7pm.