After losing three games in a row, the Utica Comets have now won three consecutive games after defeating the Hartford Wolfpack on Monday night.
The Utica Comets have turned things around, as the Hartford Wolfpack found out on Monday night. After defeating the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon to kick off a three-game road trip, the Comets rolled into Hartford, Connecticut, and took down the Wolfpack by a score of 7-3 at the XL Center despite playing without their second-leading scorer Alexander Holtz. He did not play in the third period against Providence with an undisclosed injury. They did, however, welcome back AJ Greer and Kevin Bahl, who was re-assigned back to the team by the New Jersey Devils on Monday morning.
Utica did not wait long to start the scoring when Graeme Clarke put a loose puck in the crease past Hartford goaltender Adam Huska at the 1:44 mark of the first period. The Comet’s lead could have been larger but they hit the post twice within the first six minutes (and three times total for the period). The Wolfpack would capitalize on the Comet’s post misfortunes and then a turnover with six minutes left that wound up on the stick of Zac Jones who ripped a shot past Utica goaltender Akira Schmid from the high slot to tie the game at one and complete the scoring for the first period.
Like they did in the first period, the Comets opened the scoring in the second period as well. While on the power play, Fabian Zetterlund wired a wrist shot from the left circle that was re-directed by Ryan Schmelzer into the Hartford net to give the Comets a 2-1 lead. The Wolfpack answered right back two minutes later when their leading scorer, Anthony Greco put the rebound off a shot from Ty Ronning past Schmid to tie the game at two. Utica re-took the lead with five and a half minutes left in the period when AJ Greer tipped a Reilly Walsh point shot past Huska for the Comet’s second power-play goal of the period. The teams went to the locker rooms for the second intermission with the Comets leading 3-2.
The scoring floodgates opened in the last half of the third period. Fabian Zetterlund scored his team-leading twenty-fourth goal of the season when took a beauty of a backhand pass from Frederik Gauthier and put it past Huska to give the Comets a 4-2 lead. Once again, the Wolfpack answered right back as less than two minutes later Lauri Pajuniemi poked a loose puck in the crease past Schmid to once again get Hartford within one goal.
Thirteen seconds later, Utica would get its two-goal lead right back when AJ Greer scooped up a loose puck along the boards in the right side of the Hartford zone, skated in, and fed a backhand pass to Chase DeLeo who deposited the puck in the Wolfpack net to make the score 5-3. DeLeo added an empty-net goal with two minutes and forty-six seconds left off another pass from Greer to make it 6-3, then Graeme Clarke added his second goal of the game with just over a minute remaining to seal the victory.
Notes: Hartford outshot Utica 32-26…Utica was 2 for 2 on the power play, Hartford was 0 for 1…AJ Greer led all Utica scorers with four points (one goal and three assists). Chase DeLeo had three points (two goals and one assist), while Graeme Clarke (two goals), Fabian Zetterlund (one goal and one assist), and Samuel Laberge (two assists) each had two points…Anthony Greco (one goal and one assist) led all Hartford scorers…For all you wrestling fans out there, the XL Center is where The Undertaker made his WWF debut at the 1990 Survivor Series…Hartford plays again on Wednesday night at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton…Utica plays again on Wednesday as well at Rochester.