Matt Hackett, seen here playing with the Minnesota Wild (not) during the NHL's regular season, has been shutting down the Binghamton Senators' scorers while tending the Houston Aeros' net in the Calder Cup Finals.
The Binghamton Senators knew they'd have to come out strong in game three against the Houston Aeros, and they did. But they failed to realize that intensity had to be continued through the second period, too, and by the time they tried to fight back into the game in the final frame, it was too little, too late.
Houston got on the board just 68 seconds into the game, as Aeros captain Jon DiSalvatore got the puck past Robin Lehner. The goal appeared to get to Binghamton, as the Senators played what was likely their best period of hockey in the Calder Cup finals, both offensively and defensively. Binghamton's offense showed signs of life, outshooting the Aeros 10-9, and was able to get the crowd back into the game with monster hits on a few of the Aeros forwards. While the Aeros still had the lead at the end of the period, Binghamton seemed to be getting their groove back.
But then the second period started. All the momentum Binghamton had in the first period was gone in the second, and the Aeros managed to hold Bingo to just five shots. They also doubled their lead when Nate Prosser scored his second goal of the playoffs. After two, things didn't look good for the B-Sens.
Binghamton had a rough field to plow for the comeback in the third, but they started well just 2:52 into the final period when Ryan Potulny tipped in a point shot from Andre Benoit one the powerplay to cut the deficit in half. Houston was able to really tighten up after that, their suffocating defense once again doing its work, but the Senators were able to push and push hard when they pulled Lehner for the extra attacker with time running out. A shot by Corey Locke hit the inside of the post and appeared to cross the line before Hackett covered the puck, which made the sellout crowd go nuts. The last-minute push got the Sens close, but it wasn't enough.
With their 2-1 win on Wednesday night, the Aeros take a 2-1 lead in the series, with game three taking place Friday night in Binghamton once again.
B-Sens Killer: Matt Hackett
Before this series, Matt Hackett's save percentage wasn't even in the .900's. But in the finals, he's been able to shut down the best offense of the AHL playoffs. Tonight Hackett made many unbelievable saves, and was able to shut the door on Binghamton in the third.
B-Sens Zero: Ryan Potulny
The playoff leading scorer has yet to record a single point in the series, and tonight had zero points off four shots and went minus-two.
B-Sens Killer: Jon DiSalvatore
The Aeros captain has two points tonight, and scored on the game's first shot. He also was credited with an assist on the Aeros game winning goal in the second from defensemen Nate Prosser.