For the first time in many months, the Binghamton Senators are out of the basement in the Eastern Conference. It's been a trying season with many lows and few highs, player turnovers and goaltending pains, but hey, it's a milestone nonetheless with the Springfield Falcons now in sole possession.
One of those players that was brought into the mix was Kyle Flanagan, as he scored the game winner on a breakaway in overtime leading the Senators in comeback fashion after they squandered a two goal lead and beat the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 at The Floyd.
The suddenly surging Sens are 3-0-1 in their last four and are still mathematically in it (playoffs?!?) with 15 games remaining. Rookie goaltender Matt O'Connor got the start and stopped a game high 34 shots, as Binghamton was held to one shot in the third period, keeping his team in it.
Senators had plenty of penalty problems throughout the night with seven called against them, but held off the Crunch allowing only one power play tally, and all without their best PK'er in Buddy Robinson, as he sat out his second game of his suspension.
Another rookie Casey Bailey, who continues to impress, and Ryan Rupert staked the Senators to a two goal lead in the second period, only to have Syracuse score three unanswered goals. Veteran forward Jeff Tambellini notched his 22nd of the season on a fluke play as he chipped the puck over O'Connor's shoulder from the corner of the net.
Then in the third defenseman Matt Taormina tied it on a high riser inside the blueline, and rookie Jonathan Drouin's hard shot from inside the left circle sailed by O'Connor's far side for the only power play goal, giving Syracuse a 3-2 lead.
Then the comeback would begin, as the Senators made good on their only shot in the third period. Flanagan aimed a soft wrister to the net from the blueline that caught Daultan Leveille in front and redirected the puck by Syracuse netminder Adam Wilcox for his first professional goal with 7:52 left.
In the overtime period, Sens again found luck on their only shot as Max McCormick banked the puck off the side boards from within deep in his own end to Flanagan for a breakaway, and he solved Wilcox's five hole 36 seconds into the extra frame that resulted in a happy celebration, followed by a stick salute near center ice.
The game lacked the usual fireworks as that was the final meeting between the two interstate rivals. Two shots in the final 20:00 minutes or so isn't going to win many games for the Senators, however puck-luck went their way tonight. Which hasn't been the case for most of the season, as no lead is safe it seems when it comes to the BSens.
Let's see if they can carry that puck-luck over the rest of the weekend.
Dave Dziurzynski, Mark Fraser injured. Robinson, 2nd of 2 games suspension. Nick Tuzzolino, healthy.
POST GAME NOTES
- A couple of new faces tonight with limited TOI in defenseman Kevin Tansey and forward Mike Borkowski, with both signed to ATO's fresh out of four year college careers. Borkowski made his pro debut last Sunday and scored a goal against the Amerks, while the 6'4" 217lb. Tansey made his tonight, as the 23 year-olds try to impress looking for spots next season. Borkowski looks promising, as Tansey was seen on the bench taking tips from Fredrik Claesson.
- Bailey appears to have a high hockey IQ, while getting comfortable finding his role with so many new players. Also utility player Chris Carlisle has been terrific, with good wheels and strong on ice presence with a team high +4 on the night.
- O'C was seen afterwards with some ice taped to his right knee, as he somewhat gingerly walked outside the locker room. Regardless, most likely Chris Driedger will get the call on Saturday against Rochester, then a toss up on Sunday in Utica providing O'Connor isn't shelved, which doesn't appear to be a serious issue in the aftermath.
- Drouin with a much better performance than in his previous games in Bingo, as he's got some serious puck-handling skills and a powerful shot that was showcased in the third period. I can see why Ottawa was so high in an attempt on acquiring him, but just at what price. Speaking of which, Randy Lee and Daniel Alfredsson were in attendance scouting the game.
Three-in-three weekend continues with the Amerks at home on Saturday followed by a short road trip to Utica early Sunday afternoon.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of @AliciaS20