Things got quite hectic with Binghamton up 3-1 after two periods as Rochester mounted a come back with two third period goals to tie up the game at three apiece, only to have Mike Blunden score the game winner with just over two minutes remaining in the Senators 4-3 win over the visiting Americans on an unseasonable warm Saturday night.
The win gave the fifth place Sens (23-25-2-1) their third straight and some much needed space from the seventh place Amerks (20-29-0-2) in the North Division, as they are six points away from the fourth and final playoff spot currently held by the St. John’s IceCaps.
Rochester came back from two goal deficits twice tonight and played some desperate hockey that shoved the Sens back on their heels, despite the 37-25 shot advantage held by Binghamton.
BSens rolled out with two first period goals as forward Max McCormick scored with a sharp wrister from the circle that sailed by Rochester starter John Muse for his team leading 16th. Then defenseman Chris Rumble reached his sixth of the season as he skated towards the net before he let loose a laser from the top of the circle that beat Muse up high, glove side, as the Sens finished the period with a strong effort.
Early in the middle frame, Rochester cut the deficit by one as rookie forward Daniel Muzito-Bagenda had an open net to shoot on, with Rumble having his hands full with Tim Kennedy, as both Amerks were at the doorstep of goaltender Andrew Hammond for a shorthanded tally. However, Binghamton would answer when forward Nick Paul lifted the puck over Muse from along the side boards to increase the lead by 3-1 for his eighth of the season.
Rochester came out strong to open the third on a power play goal just 1:24 in with another rookie forward, as Eric Cornel’s slapper went through traffic and into the back of the net for his fifth of the season. Midway through the final period, ex-Senator defenseman Patrick Mullen placed a nice snap shot, upper corner past Hammond from up high in the slot for his fourth point in his last four games for the Amerks.
This was the point where it got dicey with momentum on the side of the Amerks and with overtime looming. It was going to be a gut-wrenching loss to the lowly Rochester team if they completed their comeback and had actually won.
But The Captain was not going to have any part of it.
Rookie defenseman Andreas Englund saw an opportunity and made the right play on getting the puck quickly towards the net, as he saw Blunden left unattended by the side of Muse. As the puck juggled around the pads of Muse, Blunden got lucky as the puck bounced loose and his backhanded shot hit an Amerk skate, far side of the cage, and past the goal line with 2:16 remaining for a 4-3 lead.
Amerks pulled Muse and applied some pressure in the offensive zone, but with the nice work from Kyle Flanagan and Englund in killing the clock, the Senators were able to survive and secure the win.
POST GAME NOTES
- Rochester’s line-up on the thin side as two of their top goal scorers in Nicholas Baptiste and Justin Bailey are currently on recall with parent club Buffalo with a combined 38 goals that were missing.
- McCormick with another outstanding effort tonight as he has scored 3 goals in his last 3 games. Flanagan also with killing time in the corners in the final minutes.
- Englund with a costly turnover at center ice that led to breakaway by ex-Sen Cole Schneider, and he also got away with a non-call slash that should've resulted in a penalty shot. Maybe, maybe not, but it was close as Schneider also reacted with arms raised to the heavens looking for a call. Other then that play, Englund was solid.
- Senators should stick with the Akeson-Varone-Blunden line the rest of the way.
- Casey Bailey wore a full mask with a shield and had a quiet night. Not sure what the deal is but will look into it.
- Netminder Chris Driedger served as back-up while Matt O’Connor was sent to Wichita (a year and a half too late), as his playing days appears to be over for the organization with this latest transaction.
- Akeson-Varone-Blunden, McCormick-Paul-Bailey, Krushelnyski-Flanagan-Rodewald, Perron-Rupert-Hagel. Englund/Harpur, Rumble/Carlisle, Lepine/Doornbosch. Sieloff, Gagne, Nehring and Kostka all out injured.
The home-on-home series concludes on Sunday in Rochester at 5:00pm.