The Binghamton Senators pulled even in their best-of-seven series against the LA Kings AHL affiliate, Manchester Monarchs on Friday night. Thanks to a furious third period comeback followed by a minor hiccup late in regulation, the game was capped off by an unlikely hero in Derek Grant only four minutes into the extra frame. The win was the first for Bingo in a playoff game since 2005. But over the course of the first five periods through two games in Manchester, it looked like the Senators would be heading back home in a huge hole, down 2-0 in the series
Game #1: Binghamton 1 – Manchester 2
On Thursday night, the B-Sens were victims; they were victims of goaltender Jeff Zatkoff and the Monarch defensive game, but more incriminatingly, they were victims of themselves. Despite outshooting their opposition 35-29, a figure inflated by a number of perimeter shots, Bingo played much of game one without the sense of urgency that playoff hockey requires. It wasn’t until the 59 minute mark that Ryan Potulny got the team off the mat. But by then, still down a goal, it was simply too little, too late.
Binghamton may have not brought their “A” game, but it wasn’t as if Manchester just showed up, skated around, and walked away with the 1-0 lead in the series; they earned it. Zatkoff was solid. The Monarch goalie made the routine saves, but also some of spectacular variety during the few times that Bingo were buzzing in the offensive zone. With Zatkoff shutting the door behind them, the Manchester defence played with poise and did well to frustrate the B-Sens. The Monarchs also capitalized on their chances, scoring the only power play goal in the game.
Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst believed that special teams were the difference, “We were out-special-teamed tonight, without a doubt. Our power play didn’t come up with anything for us, and our penalty killers, we gave up one late. But again, if you’re going to give them five power plays, at some point one of those is going to find its way into the back of the net.” Bingo went 0 for 6 on the power play which including a 97 second 5-on-3 man advantage. It was a game the team would want to forget about quickly with game two less than 24 hours away. Here are the highlights from the game courtesy of the BinghamtonSenators.
Game #2: Binghamton 4 – Manchester 3 (OT)
It was a crucial game for the B-Sens. Hoping to avoid a certain kiss-of-death by dropping the first two games of their first playoff series in half a decade, Bingo inexplicably spent the first two periods sleepwalking. Finding themselves down by a deuce heading into the final stanza, something clicked. The Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate exploded in third period and before the frame was ten minutes in, the deficit had not only been erased, but it was the B-Sens who were up 3-2. Scoring for the team were an unlikely trio in Potulny, Ryan Keller, and Kaspars Daugavins respectively. Said Kleinendorst, “We had to figure it out. It doesn’t matter how good you are on paper if you don’t go out and play the right way and play to win. We weren’t playing poorly, but we weren’t playing right – until the third.”
With only a minute left play and left in regulation, and the Monarch goalie pulled in favour of the extra attacker, Manchester crushed any thoughts that may have prematurely began to swim in the heads of Bingo players as Jake Muzzin tied it up. “I was so disappointed when they got that late one, because in the third, we did exactly what we needed to do,” Kleinendorst said. “We were a minute away from winning. But I think the fact that we were able to go back out and get it done says a little something about what we’ve got in there. We didn’t crumble. We didn’t fold. Adversity struck, and we just worked our way through it.”
Bingo could have easily mailed it in after the late tying goal, citing that destiny was against them, but they persevered. And now, looking back after Grant’s overtime heroics, overcoming that late third period goal is a rather nice feather in their cap. Most importantly, the win squared the series at 1. Final shots in the game were 29 aside while both teams converted a power play goal each. Check out the B-Sens highlights from the ‘game that was’ courtesy of BinghamtonSenators.
The scene now shifts to Binghamton, New York for game three at 5pm today. Of note, the next three games will all be played at home for the B-Sens. Let’s hope the young guns can continue the momentum they captured in game two!
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