Utica Comets' streaks end against Providence Bruins
A series of unfortunate events on a day considered unlucky made a difference for the Utica Comets.
That’s an unlucky development for the Comets – the hottest squad record-wise in the 32-team American Hockey League over the last month.
It all ended up spelling a 3-2 setback for the Comets against the Providence Bruins in an entertaining second meeting in less than a week between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in Rhode Island.
The result ended a five-game winning streak for Nico Daws, who was making his first start since being named a North Division AHL All-Star on Wednesday. He totaled 34 saves.
Bruins counterpart Brandon Bussi – picked the AHL’s Atlantic squad – finished with 35 saves.
It was the first loss in regulation for the Comets dating back to Dec. 14 and snapped the team’s season-best 12-game point streak (10-0-2-0) as well as a four-game win streak on Friday the 13th. The overall-point streak matches Texas for the longest such stretch this season.
The Comets’ streak is the longest since the 13 consecutive wins to open the 2021-22 season, which is an AHL record to start a campaign.
The most-recent run has helped the Comets (18-10-5-1, 42 points) rocket up the North Division standings. The team was in last place in the seven-team North Division on Dec. 14 and now sits in second place, two points ahead of idle Rochester.
The Atlantic’s Bruins (21-7-5-2) avoided losing back-to-back games in regulation for the second time this season after a 2-1 setback to Utica last Sunday.
A span of about four minutes in game time Friday played a role in the Comets’ streaks ending.
First, the Comets had what appeared to be a last-second power-play goal by Reilly Walsh in the second period waved off by officials as the PA announcer said no time remained on the clock.
Then, early in the third period, Utica didn’t convert on a 95-second 5-on-3 power play.
Shortly after, Providence’s Marc McLaughlin knocked down a Comets pass near the far boards and sent the puck from neutral zone toward Daws before it changed directions and went into the net.
Less than a minute later, Providence struck again on a perfectly placed backdoor play from Jack Ahcan to Justin Brazeau near the top of the crease.
While Graeme Clarke scored for the ninth time in the last 11 games to continue a hot streak with about 11 minutes to play, the Comets weren’t able to pull off another late comeback. Clarke is the first Comets’ player to reach 30 points this season.
Tyce Thompson – who played at NCAA Division I Providence College – also scored for the Comets to even the game in the second period. He scored his career-best seventh of the season after forcing a turnover just inside the blue line and shooting from the high slot.
Utica continues a three-game road stretch with a game at Bridgeport at 7 p.m. Saturday. Utica plays at rival Syracuse at 1 p.m. Monday.
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