Casey Bailey scored a pair of goals and rookie forward Francis Perron recorded two assists in his pro debut to help goaltender Chris Driedger earn a shutout with a 25 save performance, as the BSens cruised to a 3-0 win past the Hershey Bears in downtown Binghamton in front of a raucous crowd on a Saturday night.
Curtis Lazar also saw his first live action in some time as he started at center on the third line in-between Buddy Robinson and Max McCormick. The move raised a few eyebrows at first, but this was indeed his first game back of the season after missing training camp and all of pre-season in Ottawa due to temporarily sickness.
As Lazar was gradually introduced to live action, he steadily showed signs of improvement while getting his legs from under him after such a long dry spell, good enough to eventually work his way to the top line at center with Mike Blunden and Nick Paul flanked on the wings. That was where he was expected to play, but caution and easement was the key in his return.
Sens got on the board first much to the jubilation of the home fans as Bailey’s first goal was received on a short pass by Perron near the slash marks and ripped the puck short-side off the post for the Senators first goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
Two quick kick-saves in the first from Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek off of Binghamton’s rookie Vincent Dunn and later Ryan Rupert, who I thought played well, looked to set the tone for the Bears. Driedger then countered with a big glove save effort on a breakaway by Bears’ forward Stanislav Galiev in the second period with his team up front by a goal.
Perron did all the work in the second tally with his takeaway amongst traffic near the far blueline, as he sprinted the length of the ice out-hustling Hershey defenseman Madison Bowey to the offensive zone. Vanecek made the initial save but the puck kicked loose where Bailey swooped in to bury it into the twine for his second of the evening.
Binghamton would add an empty-netter with Vanecek pulled with 1:46 left as Blunden bobbed and weaved his way through traffic at center ice and finally found a opening big enough to fire the puck home for a 3-0 lead.
That would do it as the team celebrates around their netminder and saluted the fans with their sticks at center ice, which is always a good thing if you ask me.
POST GAME NOTES
- Driedger’s performance was solid once again. He stopped all 25 shots and with some good glove saves and played the net to perfection.
- Lazar looked comfortable the more he got his legs going as the night wore on. Tenacity type of player as he just doesn’t give up, on anything. Saw minutes on both the power play and the penalty kill, including taking face-offs during the last minutes of the game. He showed good hustle while finishing off his checks and of course, his smirk of a smile.
- Chad Nehring was replaced and took Lazar’s spot on the third line as the two flip-flopped.
- Blunden took a solid shoulder check from Galiev that sent him to the ice in the opening 20 minutes and drew the attention from both sides with some grabbing and clutching during a brief scrum, but no gloves were tossed as cooler heads would prevail.
- Fredrik Claesson showed why he is the best defenseman on the team, but also showed a sign of some offense awareness tonight. On the flip side, Ben Harpur wasn’t as good with defensive breakdowns and the lack of taking the body by simply giving up.
- Guillaume Lepine, Gabriel Gagne and Chris Rumble were the three sratches, all healthy.
- Bailey’s two goals was good enough for Star of the Game honors. Driedger earned the second star and Perron, the third with primary assists on both of Bail’s marks.
- Hershey, the 2015-’16 Calder Cup Finalist, suffered back-to-back road losses to begin the season. The club fell short in Rochester on Friday./
The team is off until next weekend, (which will be a recurring theme this season as far as games goes, as the majority is slated for weekends) when they take on the Albany Devils on the road before hosting Rochester Americans at home on Saturday.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of @AliciaS20