UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets defeated the Rochester Americans 2-1 Saturday night in front of a sold out Utica Memorial Auditorium, avenging a 7-3 loss the previous night in Rochester. With the win, Utica has now picked up a point in 10 of its past 13 contests, including four of five on home ice.
The Comets recorded goals from Nicklas Jensen and Brandon DeFazio, while netminder Joacim Eriksson made 31 saves on 32 shots to earn his 14th victory of the season. Alex Biega, Yann Sauve and Kellan Lain each recorded assists for Utica, which moved to 19-23-3-4 with the victory.
The Americans picked up where they left off last evening, as they opened the scoring just 3:38 into the game. Johan Larsson took a feed from defenseman Drew Bagnall and flew down the left wing, where he sniped a wrist-shot past Eriksson. Larsson remained at a point-per-game pace with his 27th point of the season, while the assist is Bagnall’s fifth over 41 games played.
Utica came out hard in the second period and was rewarded for its efforts just 2:08 in as Jensen beat Rochester netminder Matt Hackett to tie the score. Jensen found a loose puck off the stick of Sauve in front of the net, spun and fired it home. The goal was the sixth during the month of February for Jensen, which is tops on the Comets roster.
The Comets took their first lead of the evening with 7:24 left in the second period, as DeFazio extended his point streak to three games with the goal. The energetic winger took a feed from Lain and beat Hackett from a sharp angle on the left side. The goal was the eighth of the season for DeFazio. Biega also picked up an assist on the play, his team high 13th amongst defensemen.
The third period featured 19 shots on net and 30 total penalty minutes but neither team could find a goal. Rochester’s best chance came early in the frame, but Eriksson was equal to the task with a superb glove save. Utica nearly added an insurance tally on a late game 5-on-3 man advantage, but Alexandre Grenier’s effort from the left circle found the iron.
Utica picked up its third win of the season over Rochester and ended a three game drought, in which they were outscored 18-6. In stern contrast to last evening, the Comets put in a stout performance on the penalty kill, as they allowed zero goals on three chances.
Hackett finished with 25 saves on 27 shots for Rochester, as he fell for just the second time this season against the Comets. With the goal, Larsson now has six points (1-5-6) over four games against Utica.
The Comets are back in action tomorrow, as they travel north of the border to take on the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies will be coming off of a 4-3 exhibition victory over Farjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League this evening. Tomorrow will be their first AHL contest since the All-Star break. Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m.