UTICA COMETS (19-21-8) vs. TORONTO MARLIES (24-21-4)
The Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Toronto Marlies for the third time in nine days. Puck drops at 7 o’clock.
Last Game: The Comets suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Syracuse Crunch Sunday evening. Adam Erne put the Crunch up 1-0 early in the first period from Mathieu Brodeur and Slater Koekkoek. Yanni Gourde extended the Syracuse lead with a shorthanded strike six minutes into the middle frame from Cory Conacher. Borna Rendulic cut into the Crunch’s lead with a power play goal, tipping in a shot from Cody Kunyk. Alexandre Grenier also picked up an assist on the goal. Joel Vermin restored the two-goal lead for the Crunch three minutes later from Matthew Peca. Andrey Pedan made it 3-2 with six minutes to go in regulation, but Kristers Gudlevskis shut the door on the Comets from there, finishing with 39 saves. Thatcher Demko stopped 14 shots as his record fell to 9-10-4.
Head-to-Head: Toronto leads the season series 5-1-0. The Marlies won the most recent contest by a score of 6-4 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium last Friday. Andreas Johnsson leads all players with 11 points in the series. The Comets have been outscored 26-14 in the season series.
Scouting the Marlies: Toronto currently sits in third place in the North Division with a .531 points percentage and have registered points in five consecutive games. Brendan Leipsic, who has been inactive, leads the team with 38 points in 34 games, followed by Byron Froese with 37 points. Garret Sparks leads goaltenders with a 13-6-0 record, a 2.17 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
Highs and Lows: The Comets posted a total of 41 shots on Sunday, the highest amount in a single game this year. In addition, the team allowed the fewest shots in a game with 17. This included one shot allowed in the third period.
Shoot to Thrill: It’s no coincidence that the Comets’ top three scorers also lead the team in total shots this season. Alexandre Grenier and Darren Archibald are tied with 107 shots, while Curtis Valk has registered 105. Grenier leads all Comets scorers with 36 points, followed by Valk with 33 and Archibald with 31.
Chipping in: The Comets’ defensemen has been effective offensively as of late. At least one Comets’ blueliner has tallied a point in 13 straight games dating back to the 2-1 overtime win over Syracuse on January 11th.
Staying Out of the Box: The Comets have been one of the least penalized teams this season. At 23rd in the AHL, the Comets have totaled 575 total penalty minutes, averaging 11.98 penalty minutes per game.
Not So Friendly Confines: The Comets have struggled at home recently, dropping five consecutive games on home ice. The Comets are 8-11-4-1 at The AUD this season.
Next Game: The Comets will be back in action Friday night at the MassMutual Center against the Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05 p.m.