Nico Daws made 31 saves as the Utica Comets went into a sold-out Place Bell and shut out the Laval Rocket, 4-0, in the opener of their North Division first-round series on Wednesday night.
The best-of-three series now heads to Utica, where the Comets will have two chances to close out the Rocket. Game 2 is set for Friday evening.
Reilly Walsh scored 12:21 into the game, and Aarne Talvitie upped the Utica lead to 2-0 at 3:11 of the second period.
Captain Ryan Schmelzer then scored late in the second before tacking on an empty-netter with 1:07 to play in the game.
Daws, who was 2-2 in four starts during the postseason last year, posted his third shutout in his last six starts going back to the regular season. Cayden Primeau took the loss in net for Laval, stopping 20 of 23 shots.
A franchise-record 10,275 fans took in the game at Place Bell.
North Division First Round (best-of-3)
N4-Utica Comets vs. N5-Laval Rocket
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – Utica 4, LAVAL 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Laval at Utica, 7:00
*Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 22 – Laval at Utica, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern