Utica Comets and the Binghamton Senators were involved in a wild one as rookie netminder Matt O'Connor made his home debut not so memorable taking the loss on a shaky night in the cage losing 7-5. Ryan Dzingel scored two goals and two assists while his fellow linemate Tobias Lindberg also added a pair including his first goal as a pro in the first period. The loss put the Sens at 3-5-0 and are tied with Utica and Rochester at the bottom of the division.
The Dzingel-Paul-Lindberg line was clicking but it was Lindberg that was most impressive. His first career goal was a thing of beauty taking a Dzingel push pass from the boards in center ice and took off skating in on Comets' goaltender Joe Cannata going from his front hand to his backhand in scoring knotting the game at one a piece. He also scored the Senators' final goal of the contest on another one on one with Cannata and slung a shot short side and up high that again tied up the contest at five midway in the third.
Utica is a talented and relentless team as last season's Calder Cup finalists as they held the Senators to a tie at best and didn't give them a lead all night. A couple of sweet plays proved they still have power and talent. Especially their fifth goal with defenseman Andrey Pedan making a slap pass to Hunter Shinkaruk cutting in front of the crease beating Patrick Mullen and lifting it by O'Connor as he had no chance on the play. Also the game winner as Blair Jones' soft wrister slid on through with O'C squaring up and coming up short.
However the Senators had some pretty awesome plays themselves. The way Danny Hobbs muscled the puck off of rookie Mackenze Stewart along the side boards and found Buddy Robinson, who in turn fed the puck to a open David Dziurzynski parked in front for the easy tap in cutting the Comets' lead to 4-3. And of course Lindberg's two gems as they were never out of it until Utica added an empty netter with O'Connor pulled for the extra attacker.
The game featured a couple of fights with Travis Ewanyk and John Kurtz slugging away after one of many goal mouth scrambles 28 seconds into the second, and later Andrey Pedan goaded Mark Fraser into a brief scuffle with Fraser on the tale end of a terrible call for an extra two minutes for roughing. You got to be kidding me as Fraser has been getting that extra call more than once so far this season.
The team has a week off before their next game to not only get healthy but figure out what and how to settle down and get better defensively. They battled hard with Utica but again fell short like they did against Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday where they kept it close for two periods. Chris Driedger should get the bulk of the games coming up as platooning the two hasn't exactly worked out so far for Luke Richardson.
Michael Sdao, Zack Stortini, Michael Kostka and Guillaume Lepine
- O'Connor (0-4-0, 3.80 GAA, 0.867 SV%) had a shot bounce off his head and losing site of it as he was shaky all night. Likes to go to his knees a lot in the butterfly but has quick feet in righting himself right back up. You can tell he needs positional work and with his glove as hopefully the defense can hold up on their end.
- Lindberg scored the first and the last goal for the Senators and you can just tell he's one of them that has it. Good on his feet, has size and looks like he's enjoying himself with his new team in a new City. Potential talent is there that you just can't ignore. Impressive start.
- With Max McCormick and Matt Puempel still up with Ottawa on emergency recall, Alex Guptill made his season premiere and at one instance had a nice toe drag producing a shot that surprised many as he's been nothing to write about last season.
- It was good to see Robinson returning in his second game back from injury as he was his usual self creating havoc on the PK alongside Cole Schneider.
-So far O'Connor hasn't lived to the hype that surrounded him during the off season which isn't really fair to the 24 year old. I'm not overly concerned as it's early and it's a big leap from the college to the pros. It'll come.
- Defense missed Kostka as he's been out with an injury but should be ready next weekend. He could take a roster spot for Mullen, as he has shown no improvement and continues to make bad plays including a late turnover he simply gave up on. Somehow Richardson was asleep at the wheel as he waited to pull O'C with less than a minute left instead of around the two minute mark.
- Power play still showing signs of struggling as tonight it went 1/5. PK was 2/7 and shots favored Binghamton 32-29.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.