Goaltender Matt O'Connor's first professional season has been a bumpy ride for the most part, but he looks to finish strong and that he did in today's game against the Utica Comets. The rookie made 46 saves and kept his team in it, as the Binghamton Senators won in a shootout by a score of 3-2 at The Aud. His record now stands at 8-17-2-0, 3.34 GAA, 0.892 SV% in 28 appearances.
The BSens are 5-0-1 in their last six and swept the three-in-three weekend series earning six out of a possible six points. Friday night was an overtime win past Syracuse, followed by last night's victory over Rochester.
One of the reasons the high shot total allowed was the Senators repeated trips to the penalty box, which has been a season long problem. A total of seven calls went against, including being shorthanded in the overtime session with Ryan Rupert in the box, one of his game high four penalties. The Comets were successful on the powerplay for both of their goals, including a five on three on their second tally.
Binghamton, with a sluggish opening 20 minutes, were whistled four times for penalties. Utica capitalized and scored first, as Joseph LaBate re-directed a soft wrister from Taylor Fedun at the point as O'Connor had limited time to react, that put the Comets in front 1-0. It would have been 2-0 soon after had it not been from a friendly post, as Comets controlled play and outshot the Sens 18-6.
Rupert would tie it in the beginning of the second period as he also had a re-direct that slid under the crossbar, with the initial shot that was taken by defenseman Ben Harpur from his blueline. O'Connor continued to be strong, as he stopped Fedun twice while he scampered around the net. But Comets regain the lead on a five on three as Carter Bancks picked up the loose puck in the paint and parted ways with it to the open net, as O'C gave up a juicy rebound from a shot from the point by Joseph LaBate.
Senators got a huge break when Jerome Leduc's clearing attempt from deep in his zone, was mishandled by Utica's Jordan Subban with Phil Varone behind him. The puck bounced loose and Varone sent it past Utica netminder Joe Cannata for his 18th of the season. O'Connor was active again in the second period, as he had to face another 18 shots while the Sens managed just seven.
Both clubs appeared tired in the final period coming from the third game in as many days, as they head to overtime tied up at two apiece. Senators found themselves with a holding call that gave the Comets the extra man with a 1:04 remaining, but O'Connor had a couple of glove saves on Subban as he held down the forte.
In the shootout, Alex Friesen scored but O'C stopped T.J. Hensick and Bancks. After Jason Akeson was denied, Varone's backhanded deke eluded Cannata, and rookie Casey Bailey's wrister went through the legs of Cannata that gave the Senators the 3-2 victory.
Dave Dziurzynski, Mark Fraser, Kyle Flanagan, lower body injuries. Kevin Tansey, healthy
POST GAME NOTES
- That is what you need on occasion, is your goaltender to have the ability to bail out his teammates on the tail end of a long weekend, and that is exactly what O'Connor did today. It was also his first ever shootout, as he denied two while allowing Friesen's shot over his shoulder while down on the butterfly.
- Fredrik Claesson was awarded a rare penalty shot, as he was set free from serving two minutes in the sin bin and skated after the puck on a semi breakaway and was hauled down. Cannata made a blocker save on Claesson that kept the game scoreless in the first.
- One thing positive you can take away from an otherwise frustrating season is to finish strong and build off of that for next season. All these new faces have fared well enough to consider bringing them back, as it will be an interesting off-season coming up for sure.
- Zack Stortini had a rough go at it taking pucks off his body while blocking shots, as he didn't miss a shift.
- Kyle Flanagan missed the game due to an injury suffered in Saturday's tilt with the Amerks, as it appeared to be related to his leg.
- All three Stars of the Game went to the Senators, with O'Connor earning top honors. Bailey and Verone the other two.
The Pens and Sens will faceoff in Wilkes-Barre in a mid-week game this coming Wednesday. Then a rematch on home ice two days later in Binghamton.