Montembeault, Defense Clamps Down Comets, 3-2Jan 3, 2020
UTICA, N.Y. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-16-2-0) got clutch performances from their penalty killers and netminder to snag a 3-2 win over the Utica Comets (20-11-2-2) on Friday night inside the Adirondack Bank Center.
Against one of the most potent offenses in the AHL, it was the Thunderbirds who struck first. After a power play came and went without a tally, Jack Rodewald poked a loose puck to center and moved up in a 2-on-1 with Joel Lowry. From the right circle, Rodewald shuffled a perfect saucer pass to the tape of Lowry, who neatly cut to his backhand before sliding the puck in between the legs of Zane McIntyre to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead at 8:47 of the period.
Sam Montembeault went into the net for the start after two games off and put together a strong first period with 13 saves. Unfortunately for Sam and the defense, the lead would slip away in the final second, as Carter Bancks crashed the net shorthanded, picked up a rebound in the blue paint, and shuffled it across the line with just 0.2 seconds remaining to tie the game, 1-1.
Springfield allowed the shorthanded goal late in the first, but they got one back for themselves in the second when Jonathan Ang picked the puck off from McIntyre behind the Utica net, swung out to the left circle, and fired a turnaround wrist shot through the Comets goaltender at 8:29 of the second to give the T-Birds a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the lead would not survive the period, as Sven Baertschi crashed the net for a rebound off a Wacey Hamilton shot and punched it past Montembeault with 2:24 left on the clock in the middle frame.
This time, however, it would be the Thunderbirds who picked up a last-second goal into the intermission. After being hauled down behind the net, T-Birds All-Star selection Owen Tippett picked himself up, moved into the slot area, and snapped a wrist shot through McIntyre with 1.6 seconds left to get Springfield a 3-2 lead into the final period of regulation.
Montembeault and the defense would take over the game in the final period, including a gutsy penalty kill with less than three minutes remaining, and Montembeault picked up the win making 30 saves on 32 shots.
The T-Birds tied their franchise record with this, their third straight road victory. They can set the club mark tomorrow night when they tangle with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the second time this week. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.