Jim O'Brien (right) picked the right time to come out of his playoff slump.
The Binghamton Senators managed to hold off a strong Houston Aeros push in the third period to force Game Two of the Calder Cup Final to overtime, and 7:54 into the extra frame, forward Jim O'Brien beat Matt Hackett to give the B-Sens the win and tie up the series at one game apiece.
The scoring in regulation started and finished within the first five minutes of the game. For the second time in the finals, Bobby Butler scored the game's first goal off a one-timer assisted by Kaspars Daugavins and Corey Locke were credited with the assists. Just a few minutes later, with Butler in the penalty box, Houston forward Casey Wellman deflected the puck past Robin Lehner to knot the game at ones. It was once again a slow start for Binghamton's offence, who mustered just six shots in the first and continue to struggle through Houston's defence.
Things got heated in the second period, and the two teams combined for five minor penalties, but neither team could do much on the powerplay and the score remained tied.
In the final frame, Bingo's offence was virtually suffocated by Houston, and the Sens were outshot 10-3 in the third. Lehner stepped up for the Sens, though, and he led his team into overtime.
Both teams played tightly in the extra frame, but near the mid-way mark, O'Brien and Erik Condra broke into the Houston zone. Condra put the puck across the ice to O'Brien, who fired it past Hackett to get Binghamton yet another overtime victory--their sixth of the 2011 playoffs, of seven they've played so far.
The Calder Cup Final series is now tied at one game apiece, with the next three games to take place in Binghamton.
B-Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
Rockin' Robin had another fantastic game, saving 28 of the 29 shots on net. While Houston's defense was keeping Binghamton's offense out of the game, Lehner was keeping Binghamton in the game by shutting down the Aeros and giving Binghamton's offence the time they needed to take the lead.
B-Sens Hero: Jim O'Brien
It's easy to say Houston should have won this game. They had Binghamton on the ropes in third period but just couldn't get the knockout punch. But close doesn't cut it, and all it took from Bingo was one lucky left hook (and some solid goaltending). Jim O'Brien had been quiet for most of the playoffs, but he picked a good time to wake up by scoring the overtime winner.
B-Sens Killer: Houston's defence
The Aeros' defense continues to stifle Binghamton's league-leading offence. They limited the the B-Sens to just 21 shots in Saturday's game, and killed five of six penalties they were assessed with some very strong penalty killing. Between Hackett's strong play and the solid defense, the Binghamton Senators are left searching for answers and unless their offense can find a way to get through, the series will likely have a few more one-goal games.