Mike Zalewski’s goal early in the third period was the difference as Utica defeated host Oklahoma City, 3-2, in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the Cox Convention Center on Monday night.
The Comets have a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday.
Coming off a split of a pair of overtime games to open the series, Utica grabbed the early lead 1:20 into Game 3 as Sven Baertschi found Alex Friesen in close and Friesen knocked the puck home for his first goal of the playoffs.
Alexandre Grenier was left alone in front and tucked a shot past Richard Bachman for his second goal of the postseason at 12:35 of the first, giving the Comets the first two-goal lead by either team in the series.
Andrew Miller brought the Barons back to within 2-1, firing a shot top-shelf from between the hashmarks at 15:10, a shorthanded goal scored just moments after a Utica power play had begun.
The score remained unchanged until the 3:08 mark of the third period, when a wide-open Joshua Winquist put home his second goal of the playoffs from the top of the crease, pulling the Barons even at 2-2. The goal was Oklahoma City’s first power-play marker in 11 tries during the series.
Utica responded quickly, however, and regained the lead at 4:50 as Zalewski got a piece of Alex Biega’s shot and deflected it past Bachman for his first career playoff goal.
Markstrom (5-3) made 20 saves in the win; Bachman (3-2) stopped 25 shots in defeat.
Western Conference Semifinals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
1-Utica Comets vs. 6-Oklahoma City Barons
Game 1 – Thu., May 7 – Oklahoma City 2, UTICA 1 (4OT)
Game 2 – Fri., May 8 – UTICA 2, Oklahoma City 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 11 – Utica 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 13 – Utica at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 5 – Thu., May 14 – Utica at Oklahoma City, 8:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 18 – Oklahoma City at Utica, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 20 – Oklahoma City at Utica, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern