The Utica Comets (46-20-7-2) broke the 100-point threshold Friday night after defeating the Rochester Americans (28-40-5-1) at the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.
Cory Conacher (pictured above) (1-0-1) scored his seventh of the season since joining the team, which gave the Comets their first goal of the night. Nicklas Jensen (1-1-2) also found the back of the net for his 14th of the year as well as assisting on Frank Corrado’s (1-0-1) game-winning goal.
The power play seemed to be the answer for both teams in the first stanza after both sides of the ice saw the puck tickle the twine for a goal. The Comets were the first ones to find the back of the net just 16 seconds after Mikhail Grigorenko took the bullet for a too many men on the ice penalty. Sven Baertschi recorded his 14th point in 14 games with the Comets after assisting Conacher’s rocket of a shot. The puck buzzed past Matt Hackett at 9:30 and as an added bonus knocked his water bottle off of the top of the net as the Comets notched the power-play goal and took the lead. Alexandre Grenier received the primary assist on the play.
With less than two minutes left in the period it was the Comets turn to kill off a penalty. Unfortunately for the Comets, Sam Reinhart continued the Americans rush as he plucked it towards Grigorenko inside the slot. Grigorenko faked a shot to Jacob Markstrom’s left side but instead he opted for the pass and fed it across the slot to Johan Larsson who banged it in for the equalizer and the power-play goal.
After re-collecting themselves during the first intermission, the Comets came back into the second period and took back their one-goal lead after Matt Hackett mishandled the puck behind his own net. Jensen intercepted the pass and snapped it into the open far side to make it a 2-1 game at 2:53.
An unexpected backhand pass to Phil Varone at 13:41 from blue line to blue line led to a one-man effort as Varone fought Alex Biega for space on the right wing. Varone eventually found enough room to snipe one clear over Markstrom’s glove and into the top shelf on the far side to tie it up for the second time in the game. Chad Ruhwedel assisted on the play as well as Reinhart who tallied his second helper of the game.
The third period only saw one-goal but it was all the Comets needed in order to pull through with the win and maintain their first place standing within the Western Conference. At 12:17 Jensen bolted down the center straight out of the neutral zone but was poke-checked before he could get the shot off. Luckily Corrado had his back and immediately shot the loose puck and buried it into the mesh to make it a final score of 3-2.
With the Grand Rapids Griffins beating the Charlotte Checkers 2-1 Friday evening, the Comets are unable to clinch the Western Conference until tomorrow night when the Comets visit the Adirondack Flames at the Glens Falls Civic Center at 7 p.m. for their final game of the regular season.