Photo credit: AHLTV
For the third straight game, the Utica Comets come back to tie the score in the third period. This time they ultimately fell short.
The Utica Comets have developed a knack lately for playing in close games, as seven of their last eight games have been decided by one goal. Wednesday night in Laval, Quebec was no different as the Comets tied the score at three in the third period but fell to the Laval Rocket by a score of 4-3.
The Comets entered this game with the eighth-best penalty-killing units in the American Hockey League and the Rocket were twenty-seventh out of thirty-one AHL teams on the powerplay. Those particular stats went out of the window on Wednesday night, as Laval converted on all three of their opportunities with the man advantage. The first of those three powerplay goals opened the scoring at the 4:29 mark of the first period when Jesse Ylonen, playing in his first game back with the Rocket since being reassigned by the Montreal Canadiens, snapped a shot from the slot past by Utica goaltender Nico Daws. The Ylonen goal was the only scoring in the opening frame.
The second period was full of action as each team registered fifteen shots on goal. The Comets tied the score at one six minutes into the period when Alexander Holtz took a feed from Aarne Talvitie and wired a shot from the left circle past Rocket goaltender Kevin Poulin. Laval answered back three minutes later on the powerplay when Ylonen scored his second goal of the game as he fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Daws with the primary assist going to former New Jersey Devil Jean-Sebastien Dea.
Two minutes after the second Ylonen goal, the Rocket extended their lead to two when Louie Belpedio blasted a one-timer from the point off of a pass from Tory Dello past a screened Daws. With one minute and ten seconds left in the period, the Comets made the score 3-2 when Nate Schnarr barreled down the left side of the Rocket zone and put the puck past Poulin for his eleventh goal of the season.
With momentum on their side, the Comets tied the game at three early in the third when Nolan Foote found Michael Vukojevic charging down the middle of the Laval zone. who went top shelf past Poulin for Utica’s third goal of the game. The teams went back and forth until the Rocket took the lead for good when with four minutes and twenty seconds left Peter Abbandonato scored Laval’s third powerplay goal of the game when ripped a loose puck in the slot into the Utica net. The Comets furiously tried to tie the game in the closing minute, but Poulin stopped a Nolan Foote point-blank chance with one second left to seal the game for the Rocket.
Notes: Utica outshot Laval 32-28…Utica was 0 for 3 on the powerplay, Laval was 3 for 3…Two natives of the City of Laval played in this game, Frederik Gauthier of the Comets and Jean-Sebastien Dea of the Rocket…Michael Vukojevic (one goal and one assist) and Fabian Zetterlund (two assists) led all Utica scorers, Jesse Ylonen (two goals) led all Laval scorers…Nate Schnarr has a three-game goal-scoring streak going for Utica, Nolan Foote has recorded a point in three straight games…Nico Daws made his second straight start in goal for Utica since returning from injury with Mareks Mitens as the backup. Akira Schmid has yet to dress for the Comets since being reassigned to the team on Saturday morning…Utica’s next game is on Friday night at Syracuse, Laval’s next game is on Friday, January 28th at the Texas Stars.