The Utica Comets offense exploded for five goals in a 5-1 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday evening. The win snapped the Comets five game losing streak and reduced their magic number to 17 points for the coveted third playoff spot in the North Division.
Kellen Jones (1-1-2), and Curtis Valk (1-1-2) enjoyed multi-point nights, while Ronalds Kenins (1-0-1), T.J. Hensick (1-0-1), and Jon Landry (1-0-1) also added goals. Joe Cannata made 35 saves in his 18th win of the season.
The Comets kicked off the scoring after a Ronalds Kenins slashing minor nullified the Comets first power-play attempt. Playing short-handed, Carter Bancks forced an offensive zone turnover along the half wall. Bancks collected the puck and quickly found Kellen Jones as he streaked into the zone. With a defender in his face, Jones flicked a shot over the blocker of O’Connor for his third goal of the season, and second as a Comet.
The Comets doubled down on their lead on their 10th shot of the game just 1:43 into the second period. As he slid across the slot on one knee, Ronalds Kenins one-timed a feed from Milos Bubela past the glove of O’Connor to give the Comets a 2-0 lead. The assist was Bubela’s first professional point since joining the Comets on an Amateur Tryout Contract last week.
The Comets were once again able to double their lead with two firsts just five minutes apart.
First, Curtis Valk recorded his first career American Hockey League goal with a slick wrist shot from the slot that raced by the leg pad of the Senators’ goaltender.
T.J. Hensick followed that up with his first goal as a member of the Comets just five minutes later. On a two-on-one, Kellen Jones’ pass across the crease to Carter Bancks was blocked by a sliding Senators’ defender. O’Connor, who had slid to the far side of the crease to challenge the shot, found himself out of position and could not regroup before Hensick jammed the loose puck into the short side.
The Senators pulled O’Connor in favor of Chris Driedger to start the third, however, just 2:03 into the period Jon Landry gave the Comets a 5-0 lead when his wrist shot from the point snuck through traffic and into the net. Curtis Valk and Alexandre Grenier assisted on the goal.
Joe Cannata’s shutout bid lasted 29 shots, 43 minutes, and 45 seconds. David Dziurzynski’s wrist shot from the point clanked off the crossbar and in on the Senators’ 30th shot of the contest.
With the win the Comets record improves to 32-23-7-4.
The Comets return home for an important playoff showdown against the Rochester Americans on Tuesday night at The AUD. The Americans entered Saturday night’s game against the Syracuse Crunch just four points behind the Comets for the third, and possibly final, playoff spot in the North Division. Puck drop is set for 7pm.