TORONTO – The Utica Comets couldn’t completely dig out of a sizable hole Wednesday.

Helped by a two-goal third period, the Toronto Marlies ended the Comets' four-game winning streak with a 6-3 victory in Ontario.

The Comets (20-17-2-1, 43 points) battled back from a 4-1 deficit to make it a one-goal game early in the third period but had trouble generating a much bigger push in dropping their first game of the new year.

It was the Comets' first loss to a North Division team since Dec. 28. It is the second time this season the Comets couldn't extend a win streak to more than four games. The Comets, who have a 13-7-1-0 mark in the last 21 games, remain in third place in the division. Wednesday's loss was the second time in eight road games the Comets did not earn at least a point (5-2-1-0).

Toronto (18-14-3-2, 41 points) won for the fourth time in five games with help from Calle Rosen’s two goals and three assists each from Vincent LoVerde and Jeremy Bracco.

Tanner Kero continued his recent scoring touch with a pair of goals, Lukas Jasek added a pair of assists and Brendan Gaunce also scored for the Comets, who were outshot 29-19. Ivan Kulbakov totaled 23 saves in his third consecutive start and is 7-7-2 this season.

The Marlies built a 3-1 lead in the opening 20 minutes with help from a few fortunate bounces.

Just 1:39 after Colin Greening gave Toronto a 1-0 lead, the Comets answered. On the Comets’ goal, Lukas Jasek created space near the right boards before putting the puck on net. As the puck fluttered Reid Boucher guide it underneath Kasimir Kaskisuo’s pads and Kero tapped it in for his 14th of the season with 9:07 left.

However, Toronto took the lead for good with goals from Calle Rosen – from the point through traffic that took a bounce past Kulbakov – and from Pierre Engvall from the left side after LoVerde’s shot bounced to him off the backboards with 59 seconds left in the first for a 3-1 lead.

Trevor Moore’s 18th of the season made it 4-1 with 11:18 remaining in the second from an impossible angle from below the goalline that glanced off Kulbakov’s leg on the team’s 13 shot.

Kero’s second of the game got the Comets to 4-2 late in the second. On the play, Jasek sent a cross-ice feed to Jesse Graham, whose shot from the left circle was redirected by Kero in front with 2:41 left. It was the fifth goal in five games for Kero after totaling one in his last 12.

The Comets got to within 4-3 less than two minutes into the third after Gaunce redirected in Jaime Sifers’ shot from the right point for his 11th of the season. Gaunce has 20 points in his last 21 games.

That would be as close as Utica got as Toronto answered with goals from Rosen – after a Comets’ turnover – and an empty-netter from Carl Grundstrom with 4:07 left after Kulbakov went off for an extra attacker.

 

Marlies 6, Comets 3

Utica;1;1;1 - 3

Toronto;3;1;2 - 6

1st Period: 1, Toronto, Greening 3 (Timashov, LoVerde), 9:14. 2, Utica, Kero 14 (Boucher, Jasek), 10:53. 3, Toronto, Rosen 3 (Jooris, Bracco), 16:34. 4, Toronto, Engvall 8 (LoVerde, Bracco), 19:11. Penalties-LoVerde Tor (tripping), 13:00.

2nd Period: 5, Toronto, T. Moore 18 (Marchment, Jardine), 8:42. 6, Utica, Kero 15 (Graham, Jasek), 17:19. Penalties-Brooks Tor (hooking), 4:25; Jasek Uti (hooking), 10:00.

3rd Period: 7, Utica, Gaunce 11 (Sifers), 1:40. 8, Toronto, Rosen 4 (Bracco, Mueller), 7:14. 9, Toronto, Grundstrom 10 (LoVerde), 15:51 (EN). Penalties-Jooris Tor (goaltender interference), 16:19.

Shots on Goal: Utica 3-11-5-19. Toronto 9-10-10-29.

Power Play Opportunities: Utica 0 / 3; Toronto 0 / 1.

Goalies: Utica, Kulbakov 7-6-2 (28 shots-23 saves). Toronto, Kaskisuo 5-6-1 (19 shots-16 saves).

A: 3,740

Referees: Mitch Dunning (43), Carter Sandlak (6).

Linesmen: James Tobias (61), Kyle Flemington (3).