The Comets kicked off their season-high five-game homestand by defeating the Texas Stars 5-2 Wednesday night at The Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The Comets (30-14-5-1) scored two power-play goals for the eighth en route to their 30th win this season. The power-play goals were the first power-play goals allowed by the Texas Stars in the past 15 road games for the Stars.
The Stars (23-17-10-1) were unable to add to their three-game winning streak and were stumped five times by the Comets’ penalty kill, which entered the game ranked as the third best in the entire league.
Brandon DeFazio (2-1-3) (pictured above) who scored two goals and his first empty-net goal this year was credited as the first star of the game. Bobby Sanguinetti (1-2-3), Dustin Jeffrey (1-0-1) and Brendan Gaunce (1-0-1) all found the back of net as well to help push the Comets’ points total to 66.
Sanguinetti got it all started for the Comets after he scored his 13th goal of the season just 37 seconds into the game. The play developed as Will Acton took a shot on the blocker side of Stars goaltender Jussi Rynnas as he battled with defenseman Cameron Gaunce. After a quick tussle, Acton beat Gaunce to the rebound and swung around to the backside of the net as he looked for the next course of action. Once Acton saw a passing lane to Sanguinetti, he dished it to the center hashmarks where Sanguinetti banged it home to give the Comets the 1-0 lead just 37 seconds into the opening stanza. DeFazio was credited with the secondary assist.
After some back and forth play, the Stars found the equalizer towards the tail end of the period at 13:36. Travis Morin initiated the play by making a pass along the blue line to Scott Glennie, who then ripped a shot off on net from the right point. Vision was an issue for Jacob Markstrom as Jesse Root was screening in front. Once the puck reached the crease, Root tipped the puck into the mesh past the Comets netminder. The play was reviewed as Markstrom argued goaltender inference; however, the goal stood and the Stars were credited with the 1-1 equalizer.
With a little more than a minute left in the opening period, the Comets took back their one-goal lead on the power play following a slashing call on Matej Stransky. Confusion ensued in front of the net after Sanguinetti lifted one towards the goal. Alex Friesen got his stick on the puck but Jeffrey followed through with the play as he snuck it past Rynnas for the power-play goal and the 2-1 lead.
Just as they did at the beginning of the first, the Comets did it again at the start of the second. Just 17 seconds after the puck was dropped, Darren Archibald streaked in towards the net and brought Rynnas to the far left side of the net as he shot the puck. Little did Rynnas know that the puck would make its way around the backside of the net and on to DeFazio’s stick before the Finnish netminder could slide to the other post. DeFazio popped it in on the open side to give the Comets a two-goal lead.
A hooking call on Julius Honka dug an even deeper hole for the Stars as the Comets capitalized on their second power play chance of the night. Gaunce found his eighth goal of the season after receiving the puck from Hunter Shinkaruk. Gaunce slipped a wrist shot through the legs of Rynnas for the power-play goal and the commanding 4-1 lead. Travis Ehrhardt also received an assist on the play.
The third period didn’t see as much action as the first two periods, but it was enough to keep the Comets on top for the rest of the game.
Following a 30 second time-out, the Stars pulled Rynnas with just over four minutes left in the game for the extra-man advantage. At 16:56, DeFazio pretty much sealed it all up with an empty-netter and his second goal of the game.
The Stars got the last word in with less than a minute left in the third period. Derek Meech squeaked it over Markstrom as he sprawled to the left of the net to make the final score 5-2.
The Comets have scored five goals in back-to-back games after Wednesday night’s victory over the Stars.
The Comets will play their second game of their five-game homestand at The AUD this Friday against the Toronto Marlies at 7 p.m. Through their six meetings with Toronto, the Comets have a record of 3-2-1-0.