Michael Chaput (0-1-1) extended his season-opening point streak to six games in the Utica Comets 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday night. The Comets’ third consecutive loss moved the club’s record to 1-5-0-0 on the season.
Derek Hulak (1-0-1) and Jordan Subban (1-0-1) accounted for the Comets scoring. Chaput’s third period assist gave him seven on the season, good for second most in the American Hockey League. Goaltender Thatcher Demko stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced in his third professional start.
Utica once again came out hot to start the opening period, and outshot Providence 6-0 in the game’s first six minutes. Derek Hulak put the Comets on the board with 13:30 remaining after he won a footrace to the puck and beat the Bruins’ goaltender, Dan Vladar, blocker side high. Utica continued their first period dominance by killing off back-to-back minor penalties to Alexandre Grenier and Andrey Pedan to preserve the 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.
The two teams played evenly throughout the first half of the second period, however it would be the Bruins who ultimately claimed victory. Despite multiple chances on two power plays, the Comets could not convert. Providence tied the game when Jake DeBrusk beat Demko on a tic-tac-toe passing play from Peter Chelarik with 8:30 to go in the middle stanza. The Bruins took the lead four minutes later when rookie Matt Grzelcyk buried a rebound shot. Wayne Simpson and Sean Kuraly picked up the assists as the visitors took a 2-1 lead into the break.
The teams continued the back-and-forth pace to start the final period before Providence extended their lead on what would stand to be the game-winning goal. Tyler Randall found Chelarik who blasted a one-timer past Demko with 14:12 to go.
Subban brought the Comets to within one just five minutes later when his wrist shot from the slot beat the Bruins’ goaltender over his blocker.
The Comets pressed hard as they tried to find the equalizer late in the third, however, Hulak was whistled for high-sticking penalty with less than two minutes to play in regulation. Anton Blihd took the opportunity to pot an empty net goal to seal the game for the visitors.
The Comets power play went 0-for-2, while the penalty kill went 1-for-3. The lone power play goal allowed came with an empty net.
The Comets are back in action on the road tomorrow night at the Hartford Wolfpack. Faceoff from the XL Center is scheduled for 7pm.