UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets came ever so close to extending their four game home winning streak, but a late Senator goal gave Binghamton a 4-3 victory in front of a sold out Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The fans stormed The AUD as 3,815 were on hand for the second meeting of the season between Utica and Binghamton. Alexandre Grenier had a three-point night (2-1-3), while Darren Archibald also found the back of the net for the Comets and Pascal Pelletier finished with two assists. Joe Cannata, who made his first start on home ice since Nov. 1, finished with 30 saves on 34 shots.
The Comets struck first just 4:12 into the game as Archibald drove hard to the net and put a Pelletier rebound past Binghamton goaltender Nathan Lawson. The goal was the fourth of the season for Archibald and the assist a team leading seventeenth for Pelletier. Grenier found the scoresheet for the second consecutive game with the secondary assist.
The Senators knotted the score at one just past the halfway point of the first as Matt Puempel buried a rebound from the right hand circle for his ninth goal of the season. Cannata turned away Derek Grant’s slap shot but could not corral the second effort as well. Winger Andre Petersson also picked up a point on the play, his 16th of the year.
The Comets struck first just 1:26 into an exhilarating second period as Alexandre Grenier beat Lawson with a fantastic individual effort. Pelletier put the puck into the middle where Grenier collected, spun onto his forehand and fired one past Lawson. Pelletier’s assist gave him his fifth multi-assist game of the season and defenseman Alex Biega also added a helper on the play.
Binghamton evened things up once again just 47 seconds later as Puempel scored his second of the evening. Grant fed the puck to Daniel New, whose point shot got to the front of the net where Puempel was on hand for the deflection to complete the first two goal game of his AHL career.
The Senators picked up their first lead of the evening on the power play, as Mark Stone beat Cannata off of a loose puck at back post. Cole Schneider and Stephane Da Costa netted assists on the play as Binghamton converted with the man advantage for the second time in the game.
Grenier ensured the Comets would not trail for long as he scored one of his own on the power play, to level the score at three. The Utica winger scored multiple times in a game for the first time in his AHL career, while he tied a career high with three points on the game. The Comets also extended a team streak as they scored on the power play for the eighth straight game at The AUD. Patrick Mullen had the lone assist for the Comets.
The second period was filled with penalty minutes as well as goals, with the two teams combining to rack up 49 penalty minutes. Darren Archibald and Michael Sdao dropped the gloves, while Kellan Lain and Sdao each picked up misconduct penalties, the Utica man for boarding and the Senator for instigating a fight.
After a back and forth third period, the Senators found themselves the beneficiary of two late penalty calls, which put the Comets two men down in the final minute. Mike Hoffman put a one-timer past a sliding Cannata for what would prove to be the game-winning goal with just 27.9 seconds left. The goal was the 15th of the season for Hoffman, which places him fifth in the AHL.
Binghamton finished three for six on the power play for the game against a struggling Utica penalty kill, which ranks last in the AHL at 74.3 percent on the season. The Senators have converted at a 22.5 percent clip this season, good for fifth best in the league.
The Comets look to rebound tomorrow evening as the Hamilton Bulldogs come to the Mohawk Valley for the fifth of a seven game homestand for Utica. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. from The AUD.