The Utica Comets quest for the Calder Cup did not have the ideal start out of the gate as they lost 3-2 to the Albany Devils at the Times Union Center on Friday night. The Devils outshot the Comets 29-14, and scored a goal in each period en route to acquiring a 1-0 series lead in the North Division Semifinals.
Darren Archibald (1-0-1) and Jordan Subban (1-0-1) each potted a goal, and Ronalds Kenins (0-2-2) enjoyed a multi-point with two helpers. Richard Bachman made the start and made 26 saves in the loss.
Albany scored the first goal of the series off of the stick of Ben Thomson. Moments after the Devils power play expired, Thomson redirected Vojtech Mozik’s slap shot from the point over the shoulder of Bachman and gave the Devils a 1-0 lead.
The Devils extended their lead 4:27 into the second period on a power play. Pavel Zacha brought the puck around the back of the net and set up Reid Boucher for a one timer from the right slot. The puck slipped past Bachman and into the net to give Albany the 2-0 advantage.
The Devils commitment to defense was evident throughout the game, especially so during the second period. The dominant Devils defense held the Comets to no shots on goal through the entirety of the middle frame.
27 seconds into the third period, and on the team’s first shot since the first period, the Comets cut the Albany lead in half. Alex Friesen received a pass in the left slot from Ronalds Kenins, spun around, and sent a pass across the front of the net to Archibald who was planted in the crease. Archibald finished off the scoring play and jammed the puck into the wide open net to make it 2-1.
Joseph Blandisi reestablished the Devils two goal lead with nifty backhand goal on a breakaway.
Utica wouldn’t go away easy, and chipped away at the Albany lead once again late in the third. Kenins dumped off a pass to Subban just inside the blue line, and he fired a laser past the stick of the net minder to narrow the Devils lead to 3-2.
The score held, and the Utica comeback attempt fell just short.
The Comets and Albany Devils get right back at it Saturday night. Game 2 of the North Division Semifinals is slated to start at 5 p.m. at the Times Union Center in downtown Albany.