The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have clinched a playoff spot and are in first place temporarily in the East Division in beating the Binghamton Senators 2-1 in a low scoring affair tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena. Rookie prospect Ryan Dzingel scored his first professional goal late in the first period as both teams played a tight checking, defensive effort for the majority of the evening, but Binghamton gave up a bad shorthanded goal late in the second that tied up the game at one a piece giving whatever momentum there is on the table to the Penguins leading into the third. Senators fall to fifth in the Eastern Conference with still a game on hand over the Pens as their magic number remains at one.
First period finds the Senators shorthanded two men down for 1:39 with Wacey Hamilton in the box for a delay of game call and a Alex Grant holding penalty. Fredrik Claesson, Mike Sdao and Derek Grant represents the Sens as Pens do a whole lot of perimeter passing in looking for the right opportunity without much resulting as Andrew Hammond does make a great glove save on Nick Drazenovic from the left circle. Sens end up killing it as that was a key chance for the Penguins to take charge of the contest early on.
Another power play for W/B-Scranton and Hammond gloves a one timer from Tom Kostopoulos‘ slapper and has looked good so far but Binghamton doesn’t generate very much as Penguins are in control. Matt Puempel and Reid McNeill get into a tussle with Puempel outmatched by the more experienced fighter in McNeill as he gets taken down. Just when the first is winding down Dzingel scores his first professional goal with 46.4 seconds left getting two chances hitting the puck on the second try eluding Peter Mannino and finding the back of the net. A Penguins defenseman turned over the puck with a lazy pass from behind the net that Shane Prince darted to and quickly passed to Dzingel in front.
1-0 Binghamton leading into the middle frame as Mannino simply robs Cole Schneider who had an open net to himself which looked to be a sure goal. Dzingel and Josh Archibald get into a little tussle as both find themselves on the ice with no punches thrown. Hammond making some smooth saves on Nick D’Agostino and Anton Zlobin with Mannino blocker save on Buddy Robinson as both netminder’s have been solid with what little shots that have been made.
Non-stop action but Binghamton with one big miscue. On the Senators power play with Kostopoulos in the sin bin, Brendan Mikkelson‘s hail mary pass finds Carter Rowney down deep in the Senators zone with no one around him as it’s one on one with Hammond right in front of the crease. Rowney pulls a quick move faking Andrew and finds open net up top roofing the puck in for a shorty tieing the contest up 1-1 with 15.7 seconds left in the period. Don’t know what happened to the Sens defense other than a slow line change but really unfortunate play for Binghamton. Robinson and Mikkelson drop the mitts after the horn blows and Buddy knocks Mikkelson down and lands on top of him for the exclamation point. Senators manage just two shots on goal for the period.
Both teams playing conservative hockey in the third as we can possibly see both clubs clinching a post season spot if tied after regulation. However, that’s not going to happen as the Penguins have a three on one rush with Ben Blood the lone defenseman back. With Drazenovic patiently holding onto the puck, Blood falls to the ice trying to prevent the passing lane and in doing so takes himself out of play and at the same time draws Hammond out of position. Drazenovic dishes to Scott Harrington who has an open net staring at himself for the easy goal and puts the Pens up 2-1. Hammond is pulled with 1:17 left but W/B-Scranton just smothers Binghamton with no real threat mounted. Pens have three shots in the period but earn the ‘W’.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Shots in the game tied with 16 a piece indicating more of a defensive type with Penguins getting that second shorthanded tally the back breaker of the game.
- Senators 0-5 on the power play and had no structure on the man advantage as they were pressured pretty heavy by the Pens.
- Claesson, Sdao and both Grant’s great job in blocking shots, clogging the scoring lanes and keeping things to a minimum for WBS.
- Dzingel scores his first pro goal with his first shot blocked by Mannino but got a second attempt and whacked it in. Garrett Thompson retrieved the puck from one of the officials for the souvenir.
- The Senators still have a game on hand and now turn their attention to tomorrow afternoon’s game in Hershey, losers in a shootout in Springfield and find themselves tied with Norfolk for the final playoff slot.
- I would expect Hammond the rest of the way as he wasn’t terribly busy tonight in making 14 saves as this was more of a defensive battle.
3 STARS OF THE GAME
- #1 Harrington (1g)
- #2 Rowney (1g)
- #3 Mannino (15 saves)
Sunday Afternoon @ Hershey Bears.
Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Ulmer.