UTICA — Both the Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch had been playing strong hockey.

It was the Crunch who kept the trend going Wednesday night against the Comets at Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Syracuse scored six straight goals and cruised to a 6-1 victory over a shorthanded Comets squad in the North Division rivals' second of 12 meetings this season.

The setback ended a five-game streak in which the Comets (10-10-1-1, 22 points) had earned at least a point. Still, Utica is 4-1-1-0 in the last six games and remains in the thick of the division standings. 

"We'll chalk this one up as a negative ... but I think we can build off of it and learn something from this game," said Jayson Megna, who had an assist to extend a point-streak to five games. "We'll try to move forward and get better through the course of the season."

Veteran defenseman Patrick Wiercioch got an early short-handed goal for the Comets, who were playing without a total of 11 players for a variety of reasons. On Wednesday, that included goaltender Thatcher Demko and forward Michael Chaput — two key players Utica head coach Trent Cull said had been recalled before the game by the Vancouver Canucks, who have had recent injuries to Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett.

"We think our guys are working hard. We've got a lot of guys that are playing a lot of minutes," Cull said. "At some point it catches up with you when you're missing 11 guys from your lineup from the start of the season."

Utica's veteran goalie, Richard Bachman, made 22 saves in his second start in the last 10 games. He had missed time recently with a lower-body injury.

Adam Erne finished with a hat trick and Carter Verhaeghe added two goals to help the streaking Crunch (11-9-1-2, 25 points) extend their winning streak to seven games. Louis Domingue made his third start in four games and made 24 saves.

"We've done a pretty good job of hanging in here for awhile now. You're going to have nights like this if we're not firing and getting a little bit of luck and maybe getting some calls," Cull said.

The teams traded goals and were knotted at 1-1 after a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes.

The Comets had a good start and struck first with help from their 16th-ranked penalty kill. Cam Darcy forced a turnover in the Comets' zone and got the puck to Jayson Megna. The veteran forward skated into the Crunch zone on the right side and fed a streaking Wiercioch, who tapped in his fourth goal of the season with 10:06 left. The assist pushed Megna's point-streak to five games. It was Darcy's career-best ninth assist of the season.

From there, the Crunch were in control. Syracuse gained momentum and tied it later in the period. Erne scored from the slot with 2:03 remaining after Kevin Lynch forced a turnover behind the Comets' net.

Syracuse's momentum continued as the Crunch controlled large stretches of the second period and had a 12-7 shot advantage. That pressure paid off when Verhaege scored back-to-back goals about a minute apart — the first when he put in a rebound past Bachman — to give the Crunch a two-goal advantage.

The Comets got a power play near the end of the period, but were held in check by Domingue and the Crunch. Utica finished 0-for-4 on the power-play.

The Crunch put the game away in the third period. Matthew Spencer made it 4-1 on a turnover with 12:06 remaining before Erne added back-to-back goals — one on the power play to finish 1-for-6 on the advantage — about two minutes apart.

"I don't think we came out with the same urgency or stuck to our game plan the same in the second or third," Megna said. "That's what happens in this league when you don't play well for 60 minutes."

Crunch 6, Comets 1 

Syracuse;1;2;3 - 6

Utica;1;0;0 - 1

1st Period: 1, Utica, Wiercioch 4 (Megna, Darcy), 9:54. 2, Syracuse, Erne 4 (Lynch), 17:57. Penalties-Peca Syr (tripping), 3:22; Sautner Uti (hooking), 5:51; Sautner Uti (hooking), 8:23; Cernak Syr (roughing), 19:10; Brisebois Uti (tripping), 19:10; Darcy Uti (roughing), 19:10.

2nd Period: 3, Syracuse, Verhaeghe 4 (Masin, Cernak), 9:55. 4, Syracuse, Verhaeghe 5 (Bournival), 11:02. Penalties-Bancks Uti (slashing), 2:36; Bournival Syr (slashing), 11:54; Thomas Syr (cross-checking), 18:49.

3rd Period: 5, Syracuse, Spencer 1 (Cirelli, Erne), 7:54. 6, Syracuse, Erne 5 (Bodie, Cirelli), 10:50. 7, Syracuse, Erne 6 (Joseph, Cirelli), 12:48. Penalties-Wiercioch Uti (hooking), 1:13; Cirelli Syr (hooking), 1:26; LaBate Uti (tripping), 12:03; Masin Syr (holding), 13:58.

Shots on Goal-Syracuse 8-12-8-28. Utica 9-7-9-25.

Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 / 6; Utica 0 / 4.

Goalies-Syracuse, Domingue 5-2-0 (25 shots-24 saves). Utica, Bachman 2-5-0 (28 shots-22 saves).


Referees-Chris Ciamaga (13), Guillaume Labonte (35).

Linesmen-James Tobias (61), Andy Petrus (26).