This isn’t what I would call playoff hockey, but it was good enough to s(t)eal a victory as the Binghamton Senators earned the bonus point in overtime in a 3-2 win over the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday the 13th. Forward Jack Rodewald continues to impress, as he scored his team leading 11th and goaltender Chris Driedger made 33 saves on a night that featured some sloppy play on both fronts.
NHL veteran goalie Jaroslav Halak made his third start for Bridgeport after clearing waivers on Dec 31st and looked a bit shaky, giving up some big rebounds as the Senators cashed in on one of them in the middle frame.
After a sluggish 20 minutes with Binghamton turning over the puck more than they appeared to have possession, forward Max McCormick buried his ninth of the season on a one-timer off the rebound given up by Halak from a shot along the wall by defenseman Michael Kostka, for a shorthanded goal 8:35 in the second period.
Then just 0:33 seconds into the third, Sens increased the lead to two as defenseman Ben Harpur made a nice backhanded feed to a surging Phil Varone toward the cage as he slipped the puck past Halak for his team-leading 21st point that made it 2-0.
But the Sound Tigers held a rally of their own as they scored the game’s next two goals to tie it in the third period.
First, it was forward Steve Bernier as he took a nice cross-ice pass from Joshua Winquest and slid the puck underneath Driedger through his five hole with 14:37 left in the third. Then Kostka was called for a slash that set up a power play goal by Bridgeport forward Bracken Kearns for his 13th, as he sniped one by Driedger’s stick side from the circle that tied the game at two apiece with 3:12 remaining.
In the overtime, Buddy Robinson had a breakaway that he customary creates only to come up on the short end once again. But the Senators kept attacking and it finally paid off on a sweet triangle-set play in the offensive zone. Defenseman Chris Rumble spun around high in the slot and fed the puck over to Varone, who then sent it to Rodewald as he crashed the net far side and tapped home the game winner past Halak that sent the Binghamton faithful home with two much needed points.
POST GAME NOTES
- Binghamton (15-18-2-1, 33 points) kept pace and is in a 3-way tie along with the Rochester Americans and Toronto Marlies, 1 point out of the final playoff spot in fourth currently held by the Utica Comets in the North Division.
- The 31-year-old Halak is on the Islander payroll for a whopping $4,750,000 after posting a 6-8-5, 3.23 GAA, 0.904 SV% this season for New York. His rebound control was terrible as he lost sight of the biscuit on numerous occasions, but finished with 32 saves and on a few instances got some lucky bounces.
- On the other end of the ice, Driedger was steady and had his glove working throughout the night as he improved to 8-5-2-1, 2.72 GAA, 0.909 SV%. Scott Greenham continues to back him with Matt O’Connor still up with Ottawa.
- Harpur with some God awful turnovers with pressure from the Sound Tigers as the game wore on. Just mind-blowing.
- Power play is once again non-existent going 0/6 including a 5 on 3 man advantage for 52 seconds with only a single shot to show for.
- Kyle Flanagan returned to action after missing the last 3 weeks with a lower body injury. Captain Mike Blunden missed his second contest after what appeared to be a concussion he suffered last weekend.
- Three Stars; 1st Rodewald, 2nd Driedger, 3rd Halak.
- Akeson-Varone-Rodewald, McCormick-Paul-Bailey, Perron-Flanagan-Robinson, Krushelnyski-Nehring-Gagne. Englund/Kostka, Sieloff/Harpur, Rumble/Carlisle. Stortini and Lepine were healthy scratches.
Binghamton is in the midst of a three-in-three weekend as they take on the Albany Devils on Saturday at The Floyd.