In the eighth meeting between the clubs the Utica Comets were finally able to record their first point against the franchise that used to call Utica home in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Albany Devils on Wednesday night at the Times Union Center. The Comets entered tonight’s contest having lost all seven of their previous match-ups in regulation.
Blair Jones (1-0-1), and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) handled the scoring for the Comets, while Richard Bachman turned aside 23 of the Devils 26 shots on goal.
For the third straight game the Comets surrendered the game’s first goal. Reid Boucher dug the puck out from underneath a scrum along the half wall and cut across the bottom of the face-off circle. With four Comets players stuck on one side of the ice, defenseman Reece Scarlett streaked in from the blue line unchecked and put the finishing touches on a cross crease pass from Boucher for his first goal of the season.
Just under 10 minutes later the Comets power play snapped an 0-for-16 skid to knot the game at 1-1. After he received a pass from Michael Zalewski, Jordan Subban skated across the blue line before wristing an innocent looking shot on net. Jones, who was camped out at the top of the crease, redirected the shot past Danis for his ninth goal of the season.
The Devils would regain their lead in the beginning stages of the second period. Off a three-on-two rush, Paul Thompson put a shot on net that Bachman denied. Jim O’Brien crashed hard and had two point blank rebound chances. Bachman turned aside the first chance, but did not have an answer for the second one.
Grenier forced a turnover at center ice and along with Shinkaruk broke in on a two-on-one. With the Devils defender’s stick laying flat on the ice, Grenier saucer passed the puck over the stick of the defender, and across the slot, to Shinkaruk who quickly roofed it over the sprawled out Devils’goaltender.
Regulation ended with the teams tied at two.
The Devils only needed 58 seconds in overtime to claim their eighth straight victory over the Comets. The 2015-16 American Hockey League’s MVP, Brian O’Neill, entered the Comets zone with his linemates flanked to either side. He slipped the puck to O’Brien who wristed a shot on goal from just below the dot that Bachman appeared to have gobbled up. However, the puck dribbled out to the far side and O’Brien tapped home the rebound before Bachman or a defender could clear it.
With the overtime loss the Comets record fell to 16-15-3-2. The Comets power play snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a power-play goal in the first period, and ended the game 1 for 4. The Devils top-ranked power-play unit was blanked on four attempts by the Comets penalty-killing unit.
The Comets and Devils will conclude their home-and-home series tomorrow night at The AUD. The New Year’s Eve showdown is scheduled for a 5 p.m. puck drop.