CLEVELAND (WKTV) - Courtesy of a Pascal Pelletier game-winning goal, the Utica Comets lived to see another day as they defeated the Lake Erie Monsters in overtime, 3-2 on Thursday evening in Cleveland. The Comets now sit four points behind eighth place Charlotte for the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
Pelletier, along with Brandon DeFazio and Jeremy Welsh scored for the Comets, who improved to 32-30-5-4 with the victory. Joacim Eriksson was the victor for Utica with 19 saves on 21 shots, while Sami Aittokallio picked up the defeat despite a 29 save effort.
The first period went by with neither side finding the back of the net, despite a 9-3 shots on goal advantage for the Comets. Lake Erie hit the post twice, including a very close bid from defenseman Karl Stollery for the period's best chance. DeFazio led all skaters with three shots on goal.
The Monsters struck first midway through the second, as veteran blueliner Brett Clark beat Eriksson to make it 1-0. A feed from center Marc Olver found its way to the slot, where Clark was on hand to put a wrist shot into the back of the net. The assist was Olver's 31st of the season. Winger JT Wyman also collected an assist on the play.
Utica came from behind once again, as they knotted the score at one with 5:43 to play in the second period. Center Cal O'Reilly set up in the office behind the net, where he banked a pass off of Aittokallio's pad and right to DeFazio, who buried for the 17th time this season. The assist extended O'Reilly's point streak to five games overall and eight in games away from the AUD. O'Reilly also now has assists on six of DeFazio's past nine goals. Winger Patrick Kennedy also collected a helper on the play.
The Comets took their first lead of the evening with 6:22 left in regulation, as Welsh put a twisted wrist shot underneath the crossbar and past Aittokallio. The goal gave Welsh points in six of his past seven games played. Kellan Lain and Alex Friesen collected the assists on the play, as Friesen remained hot with now 15 points over his past 15 games.
It didn't take long for Lake Erie to answer, however, as Michael Schumacher beat Eriksson with a one-timer on the power play to knot the score at two. Center Colin Smith got a pass in behind the Utica defensive corps and Schumacher was on the other end to find the back of the net. Defenseman Karl Stollery picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Although regulation was not enough to find an equalizer, the Comets capitalized on a David van der Gulik penalty as time expired in the third. Pelletier kept the playoff dream alive for Utica, as he took a Henrik Tommernes feed in the wheelhouse and beat Aittokallio from the right circle for the game winner. O'Reilly also collected an assist on the play, his second of the evening. The goal tied Pascal Pelletier for the Comets team lead with 19 goals.
The Comets are back in action tomorrow, with a rematch against the Monsters at The Q. Puck drop is slightly later than it was in tonight's, set to go off at 7:30 p.m. The weekend concludes for Utica on Sunday evening, as they travel to Glens Falls to face the Adirondack Phantoms for the final time this season. The game is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m.