Tonight's game against the Portland Pirates was about as enticing as AHL matchups can get before playoff-clinching season begins. Most obviously, Binghamton came into the game riding an eight-game win streak, the longest the organization has seen since Brian Elliott and Mike Brodeur of yesteryear carried the big league club to eleven straight, catapulting them into the playoffs. More than the win streak, a few Binghamton players had some pride on the line. David Dziurzynski's brother Darian was in the game. Mark Stone's brother Michael was out for Portland. There was a sequence late in the first where David Dziurzynski carried the puck down the ice into the Portland zone, it was broken up and sent to Darian Dziurzynski who tore down the wing and rushed Ben Bishop, earning himself a delayed penalty. Meanwhile, David Dziurzynski took it back to the Portland zone. It was the closest professional example of the one-on-one games I used to play with my brother in our basement. Just adorable! Meanwhile, I've never typed Dziurzynski so many times in one paragraph.
Beyond the family dynamic, it was an important matchup for several other reasons. The Coyotes' affiliate has stud blueliner Karlsson Lite Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Pairing up with OEL was former Senator David Rundblad. Rundblad, once the anointed future star in the system was facing off against the usurper of his fan affection, Jakob Silfverberg. As though that weren't enough, it was also another meeting between the B-Sens and former top-scoring Rob 'Colonel' Klinkhammer. As far as Friday night hockey games go, this one was primed to be a doozy.
It was a fairly disorganized first period. There was little sustained pressure and a lot of passes that fluttered past their intended target. Portland took the lead on a Bolduc shot that took a funny deflection off Brendan Shinnimin and fooled Ben Bishop. Binghamton didn't take long to answer, with Pat Cannone coming in on a harmless looking play and firing it through Mark Visentin's five-hole. It wasn't terribly pretty, but it counts just the same. The unquestioned star of the messy first period for the Senators was Ben Bishop, who was able to handle some odd bounces in the slot. The game only improved there for the B-Sens goalie.
How good was Jakob Silfverberg in this game? Very. It's hard to imagine the B-Sens going on the tear they have without the strength of his recent play. In the second, Binghamton entered the zone with a 4-on-2 rush. The pass was behind Silfverberg, but he spun around and threw it right to the blade of Pat Cannone in the slot. The highlight-reel play was one of many during the game and the two points he finished with doesn't speak to his outstanding two-way performance. It's hard not to get excited watching his adjustment to the North American game.
Pat Cannone was one of the beneficiaries of Silfverberg's rise, and the forward, who's been somewhat quiet so far this season, looked great on the night with two goals and an assist.
In the third period, already nursing a 3-1 lead, Visentin skated out of his crease on a Binghamton powerplay. Though it wasn't intended as surrender, as Visentin's net was on edge, the cage had stayed in its moorings and Patrick Wiercioch had the easiest goal of his professional career. Hey, the Binghamton powerplay will take all the breaks it can get. Wiercioch has been on a roll lately, like the rest of the group, and added another as the clock wound down to make it 6-1.
Late in garbage time, with Binghamton holding onto a 5-1 lead, the Pirates began taking liberties with Ben Bishop, Darian Dziurzynski chief among them. Fredrik Claesson took exception and stood up for his goaltender. The antics continued from their, the sole accomplishment of which was to make the scoresheet mention Portland more often. I guess.
Somehow, Binghamton was still outshot on the night, an oddly consistent feature of this nine-game run. Ben Bishop was unquestionably one of the B-Sens top performers on the night, stopping 39 of the 40 directed towards his net. Oliver Ekman-Larsson finished the night with six shots on target, but both he and Rundblad were -1 on the night and didn't get much support in front of the net for their blueline drives. Darian Dziurzynski's only impact on the night was an imprint in the penalty box and Michael Stone didn't figure in much, although he was on the ice to enjoy two of Bingo's tallies. Binghamton's brothers won the game over Portland's on the strength of their goaltending, Jakob Silfverberg, Pat Cannone among others. Now riding nine wins in a row, the boys from Bingo will look to make it double digits tomorrow night, playing host to Norfolk.