This was not the type of game to hang your head with the results as Binghamton almost escaped the Mohegan Sun Arena with two points if it weren’t for a diving save by defenseman Cameron Gaunce in the crease with seconds remaining in the third period, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hung on for the 5-4 win over the visiting Senators on Saturday.
With the league’s best home record at 14-4-0-0, the Penguins found themselves down by a goal more than halfway into the middle frame as the Senators scored three unanswered goals to take the lead. However, two quick goals in the third period would pave the way for the Penguins to end the Senators four game win streak.
WB/Scranton came out flying in the opening period with two goals 44 seconds apart as they caught the Senators flat-footed. The first off the stick of Pen’s Captain Tom Kostopoulos as his one-timer was timed perfectly with a screen set by forward Kevin Porter as Sens’ goaltender Chris Driedger never saw the puck. Minutes later forward Danny Kristo scored his first of two on the night as he was left all alone by the hash-marks with a trio of Binghamton players caught in the middle as his wrister made it 2-0 with just 2:32 expired.
Rookie Jack Rodewald would cut the lead to one with his tenth of the season as he swiped in the rebound past rookie netminder Doug Carr, who made his first start for the Pens.
Twelve seconds into the second period, Nick Paul tied it with his fourth on a wrist shot that landed top shelf by Carr’s glove side. Then Binghamton would stun the home crowd and take the lead as defenseman Ben Harpur’s shot from the blueline deflected off of Phil Varone out in front that gave the Senators a 3-2 edge with their third unanswered goal.
Not so fast though, as the Pens answered back with three of their own with the first from veteran Tom Sestito as he snuck into the crease from the circle and tipped in a shot by defenseman David Warsofsky from the blueline with three Senators standing around unaware of their surroundings.
Tie game at three at that point until WBS broke out with two goals in a matter of 39 seconds at the halfway point of the final period, as Kristo netted his second of the game underneath Driedger’s pad with a clutter of players in front. Then forward Ryan Haggerty scored his third of the season as he shared the front of the net with another Pens’ player for the easy tap in that again found the Sens’ defense caught napping.
Casey Bailey ripped a hard slapper from the point with Driedger pulled for a power play goal for his tenth of the season that cut the lead to one with 1:01 left, and they nearly pulled it off as Carr was out of position that led to a pass in front that was intercepted by Gaunce with all the makings for a goal that would’ve sent the game to OT, but not tonight as the Senators fall short.
POST GAME NOTES
- Penguins had a game plan to give their rookie goaltender some wiggle room as they attacked right from the opening faceoff, had a let down in the middle frame, then regained form in the latter part of the third period.
- Driedger didn’t get much help from the defense on a few goals, but keep in mind this wasn’t a bottom feeder club. Binghamton has hung well with the Penguins as the last three games have been decided by a single goal with WBS winning 2/3.
- Defense was not sharp tonight as they were slow in reacting to the powerful Pens team. That fifth goal was a disaster with two players bearing down on Driedger in the crease.
- Rodewald had the team lead in goals briefly with his 10th in the first, only to have Bailey score his tenth in the final minutes of the third period.
- Despite the loss, Coach KK has his team working hard and focused while they were down 2-0 before a blink of an eye. Not known to be a player’s coach, but somehow has them buying into the system(s) in place. I’m sure it wasn’t a popular decision to bench Zack Stortini, but it had to be done in moving forward. They almost pulled it off tonight but would put this one behind them with some lessons learned.
- Akeson-Varone-Rodewald, McCormick-Paul-Bailey, Perron-Nehring-Robinson, Krushelnyski- -Gagne. Englund/Kostka, Sieloff/Harpur, Rumble/Carlisle, Lepine. Flanagan injured, Blunden day-to-day and Stortini a healthy scratch.
Binghamton is off next week until a three-in-three next weekend with the first on home ice against the Sound Tigers on Friday.