Rochester, N.Y. – Ivan Kulbakov made a career-high 48 saves, and Reid Boucher scored twice as the Utica Comets earned a point during a 3-2 shootout loss against the Rochester Americans on Friday night at Blue Cross Arena.
The opening period featured countless chances from both teams, but it was the goalies who were impenetrable. Kulbakov came up with 11 first-period saves and Jonas Johansson earned 16 stops of his own. The impressive play by the goaltenders sent the teams into the first intermission deadlocked in a scoreless tie.
The Comets broke the stalemate 4:36 into the second period on the back of a Boucher strike. Tanner Kero controlled the puck behind the net and threw it to the backdoor post where Boucher deposited a short-side one-timer. Boucher’s goal was his 18th of the season and was the only tally of the second period, setting the tone for a tightly-contested third.
It took 9:34 of gameplay in the third before the Amerks drew the game back even, as Danny O’Regan’s wrist shot knotted things up. He shuffled up the left-wing side and beat Kulbakov with a quick wrister over the pad. The Comets needed less than two minutes to re-establish their lead, as Boucher earned his second of the night. Kero set up Boucher at the side of the goal again, allowing Boucher to squeeze a shot into an impossibly small window.
Pulling Johansson in favor of an extra attacker, the Amerks tied the game with under two minutes remaining. Matt Tennyson had a blocked shot land on his stick and he wired the tying goal into the net. It sent the teams into overtime, with no winner coming out of the extra session. Needing seven rounds of the shootout, Taylor Leier came up with the winning goal, capping off the Rochester comeback.
The Comets return to the ice Friday, February 1 for a Galaxy Cup matchup against the Syracuse Crunch. Puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena is at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL TV.