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Rocket spoil Blackwood's return to game action, beat Comets for third straight time this season

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New Jersey Devils all-star goalie Mackenzie Blackwood began his conditioning assignment with the Utica Comets, Wednesday, as he works his way back from injury and gave up four goals as the Comets went on to lose 5-2.

UTICA, N.Y. - New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood saw his first game action in more than a month, Tuesday, appearing in goal for the Utica Comets in their North Division battle against the Laval Rocket, as he continues to work his way back from an MCL sprain.

In his first start of his conditioning assignment, Blackwood gave up four goals and made 18 saves in a 5-2 loss to Comets' Rocket at the Adirondack Bank Center.

The 2019 NHL all-star was beaten by the first shot he faced, a tough one-timer from Lucas Condotta at the top of the face-off circle just 54 seconds into the game to give Laval a 1-0 lead early.

The Rocket then added to the lead off a Comets' giveaway in the defensive zone with Joel Teasdale beating Blackwood top shelf 10:02 into the opening frame.

Less than three minutes later, it went from bad to worse for Blackwood and the Comets, as they found themselves down on a 5-on-3. That's when a Nicolas Beaudin shot from the point went off the leg of Alex Belzile at the side of the net, and over the goal line to give Laval a commanding three-goal lead at 12:58.

Utica responded under a minute later with Samuel Laberge following up his own rebound on a breakaway, and beating Rocket goalie Kevin Poulin for a shorthanded goal at 13:43 to get the Comets on the board and back within two. Reilly Walsh had the lone assist on the play.

There would be no scoring in the second, though the Comets outshot the Rocket 10-6 and controlled much of the play.

Unable to beat Poulin in the middle frame, Laberge found the back of the net for his second of the game 5:12 into the third period. Aarnie Talvitie and Robbie Russo notched assists on the goal that brought Utica within one at 3-2.

Just over a minute later, at 6:13, Mitchell Stephens scored to put Laval back on top by two, and Anthony Richard iced it with an empty-netter at 18:54.

With the loss, the Comets drop to 8-9-3-1 on the season.

The team continues the home stand on Friday when they host the Bridgeport Islanders, before closing out the home stand on Saturday against the Springfield Thunderbirds.

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