The Binghamton Senators are facing elimination with their backs against the wall as they fall to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-2 in what else, overtime, as Chuck Kobasew tips in a Conor Sheary shot from the blue line and takes a 2-1 series lead in the best of five series in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. The Senators couldn’t mount any quality offensive threat as their fluid style of skating and creating scoring chances was limited all night by the Penguins stingy, tight defensive play.
Both teams start out in the first on a rapid pace to set the tone as Simon Despres‘ blocks a shot on Cole Schneider‘s wrister from the high slot. Mark Borowiecki hits Anton Zlobin hard into the corner boards knocking him to the ice and is in pain as Boro gets a boarding call out of it setting up a Penguins power play. Shortly after Fredrik Claesson knocks the twig out of Tom Kostopoulos hands setting up a five on three advantage for the Pens. Cody Ceci, Derek Grant and Alex Grant are the Sens PK’ers for 53 seconds of the two-man advantage.
Nick Drazenovic‘s one timer from the bottom circle beats Hammond for the Penguins first power play goal of the series as Kobasew set him up with a nice cross ice feed with Hammond late getting into position. However, 23 seconds later Binghamton ties it up with Corey Cowick and Wacey Hamilton getting an odd man rush as Cowick lets go a wrist shot and finds the back of the net in past Mannino for the shorthanded tally. Good momentum swing for the Senators and quieting the home crowd as the Sens score their first shorthanded goal of the series.
Into the middle period as the Senators look to turn it up a gear and start skating as Zloben remains out for the Penguins. Dominik Uher gets a high sticking whistle on Mark Stone and the Senators go on the power play. Patrick Mullen‘s one timer is stopped by Mannino as Wilkes-Barre does a good job in killing it. Darren Kramer and Zach Sill chirping with one another after Mannino gloves Kramer’s shot up high. Pens get a two on one with Kobasew’s tap in from Sheary is stopped by Andrew Hammond.
Play is for the most part in the Senator’s zone the majority of the first half of the second period with Borowiecki getting literally his head into the game stopping a Drazenovic shot but appears okay. Pens heavy fore-checking in shutting down the Senators offensive game and gets results out of it when they score the go ahead goal with a Carter Rowney drop pass to Adam Payerl shooting in on net beating a screened Hammond for a 2-1 lead. Chris Wideman gets called for interference on Bobby Farnham to end the period with the Penguins on the PP to start the third.
Binghamton kills the remaining 1:48 of the power play to begin the final frame as the Senators need to get their offense going. Jim O’Brien shoots hitting the crossbar and on the other end Hammond makes a nice save on Sheary. O’Brien has better luck in the next few sequences after D. Grant’s shot hits off of McNeill’s stick to O’Brien before tucking in the puck past Mannino to tie the game up from the low circle giving his club new life. Hammond comes up big putting up a wall in stopping several Pens chances later including Sill’s snap shot from between the hash marks.
Third period ends up being the Senators better ones but still don’t have that offensive flow to it that we are so accustomed to seeing as WBS covers the middle and forcing the Senators to go wide to the outside lanes limiting any scoring opportunities. Two teams are heading to overtime for the third consecutive time.
In the extra period Ceci had a golden opportunity just missing the connecting pass to Hamilton as down on the other end Sheary keeps the puck in the offensive zone and shoots towards the net from the blue line with Kobasew parked in front getting a piece of it slightly changing directions but enough to get past Hammond and into the back of the cage. Another 3-2 overtime loss by Binghamton as they were out shot 33-22 for the game.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Seven out of the last ten playoff games played between these two teams have ended up a 3-2 score.
- Luke Richardson rolled two lines in the majority of the third period with Da Costa centering Stone and Schneider as well as Jean-Gabriel Pageau centering David Dziurzynski and O’Brien.
- Much better effort from Hammond this time as he kept his team in the game stopping 30 shots with many from close range.
- WBS played a sound game in limiting the B-Sens offense and was very effective as they forced the forwards to go wide all night in shutting down the middle lanes. That’s how you win hockey games as they put up a clinic when you are up against a high scoring opponent.
- No Matt Puempel tonight as he has practiced the last few days with the team. Perhaps he’ll be a go on Friday. JOB’s line up spot took place of Garrett Thompson‘s on the third line as I suppose Luke will once again make a few line up changes for Friday night. O’Brien looked good in his first game back while scoring a goal in his return.
- Kobasew has two goals and two assists so far in the series but his on ice presence is something you can’t miss as his hockey experience proves to be invaluable. Without him, this series might have a different tone set to it.
- Going to be a tough task in winning the next two games let alone one on Friday as the team that wins game three history will show usually goes on and wins the series. But hey, it’s the playoffs so anything can happen just like in 2011 with that first round against Manchester when the Sens were down 3-1 but came back winning the last three games to take the series.
3 STARS OF THE GAME
- #1 Kobasew (1g 1a)
- #2 Payerl (1g)
- #3 Drazenovic (1g)
Playoffs. Game IV.
Friday Night @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Cover photo & inserts courtesy of Jeff Ulmer.