UTICA, N.Y. – The Utica Comets overcame a strong Oklahoma City run during the third period and surged past the Barons with a 4-3 victory in a shootout Wednesday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. With the win, Utica pulled to within seven points of eighth place in the Western Conference, with 55 points and a 24-26-3-4 record.
Colin Stuart, Alex Friesen and Pascal Pelletier scored in regulation for the Comets, while Nicklas Jensen potted the game-winning goal in the shootout for the second time this season. Joacim Eriksson turned aside 32 of 35 for the victory, his 18th of the season. The Galve, Sweden native is now 10-5-2 over his past 17 starts. Pelletier also added another tally in the shootout for Utica.
The Comets got on the board first as Stuart redirected a slick feed from Jeremy Welsh past Richard Bachman with 4:08 left in the first period. The captain drove down the slot and into the crease where Welsh hit him with a perfectly timed pass for Stuart’s 13th goal this season. With the helper, Welsh picked up his seventh point of the season and his first on home ice. Winger Patrick Kennedy also recorded an assist on the play, his second with the Comets.
Oklahoma City found the scoreboard for the first time at The AUD as Austin Fyten finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play for the goal. Anton Lander picked up his 27th assist on the season and his fourth in two games against Utica with the primary helper, which set up Fyten all alone in front. Tyler Pitlick also had an assist on the play, his 12th of the 2013-14 campaign.
The Comets would answer back late in the second as Friesen scored his first regular season goal with the Comets to put his team on top 2-1. The Utica center buried a Kellan Lain feed past Bachman, as he found himself in the goal column for the first time since Feb. 1, 2013, when he played for the Chicago Wolves. Defenseman Frank Corrado also picked up an assist for the Comets, his sixth of the season.
Utica added another goal just 2:41 into the third period, as Pelletier put his own rebound past Bachman to make it 3-1. Pelletier’s power-play tally, his eleventh of the season, gave Utica its first two goal lead since the conclusion of the 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on Feb. 7. Nicklas Jensen and Cal O’Reilly picked up assists on the play, Jensen’s first amidst 12 goals since Jan. 11 against San Antonio.
The multiple goal advantage was short lived, however, as Baron winger Steve Pinizzotto blasted a shot past Eriksson to cut the lead back to just one goal. Just five seconds after the Comets had killed off a Negrin minor for holding, the Barons struck with Pinizzotto’s ninth of the season. Pitlick and Martin Gernat had the assists to get the Barons to within 3-2 with less than 12 minutes to play.
The Comets were unable to see out a regulation victory, as the Barons forced overtime with 4:10 on the clock. Jack Combs scored for the fifth time this season to knot the score at three and eventually force the extra session. Roman Horak picked up his 22nd assist of the season with the primary marker, while Mark Arcobello extended his scoring streak to ten games with the secondary helper.
After an overtime period that saw neither goaltender beaten, the Comets moved to 3-4 in shootout decisions this season with a 2-1 victory. After Combs and Pelletier traded goals in the first round, each team missed, before another highlight reel goal from Jensen put Utica in front 2-1. Eriksson would do the rest, as he turned aside four of the five shooters he faced to earn the Comets a critical two points.