It's taken three overtime wins, but the Binghamton Senators have forced a game seven. They were down 3-1 in the series, and have now come back to even it up. Even tying the series required the team to come back from a 1-0 deficit in game six, but they've done it, and will play game seven tomorrow night in Manchester. Not bad for a team playing without the AHL MVP and its most experienced defender.
Manchester was the better team for much of the first two periods, holding a 27-16 lead in shots and keeping pressure on Robin Lehner. Luckily for Binghamton, Lehner was up to the task, as he allowed just one goal--off the stick of Monarchs forward Justin Azevedo. Monarch goaltender Martin Jones wasn't overly tested by Binghamton, as the B-Sens had just 16 shots through two period and only a few scoring chances.
As has been the case for most of the series, though, Binghamton's offense decided to show up for the third period. It wasn't Ryan Potulny this time, but Bobby Butler who fired a shot past Jones to tie the game and force overtime for the fourth time in the series.
The first three overtime games ended fairly early on in overtime, but not this time. Although Binghamton had a full two minute powerplay late in the first OT period, Manchester killed it off, and the game went to double overtime. Bingo had outshot Manchester 14-11 in the first overtime period.
In the second, the B-Sens looked to be in trouble when the referees awarded Bud Holloway a penalty shot when it appeared Lehner's net was intentionally dislodged. Some tense moments ensued while Kurt Kleinendorst protested the call, but to no avail. Lehner was once again there for the B-Sens, as he got a piece of Holloway's shot and forced it wide of the net.
Thanks to Lehner's heroics, Binghamton stayed in the game until, ten minutes into the period, Geoff Kinrade scored the biggest goal of his young career to force a winner-take-all seventh game. With the win, Bingo has now won three games, and all have come in overtime. There's no shortage of excitement in this year's AHL playoffs.
B-Sens Hero Legend: Robin Lehner
Lehner played more than 90 minutes of hockey on Friday night and allowed only a single goal. He stopped 51 of 52 shots faced, including an overtime penalty shot against the Monarchs' leading playoff scorer. His nerves of steel have allowed him to play 36:39 in sudden-death, elimination-defying overtime hockey in his first two professional games, stopping all 22 overtime shots he's faced and leading his team to victory both times. The kid is a monster.
B-Sens Killer Nemesis: Martin Jones
While Jones wasn't really challenged in the first two periods, he was in the last three. He stopped 43 of 45 shots on the night, including 14 in the first overtime period. He went save-for-save with Lehner most of the night, and it's almost a shame one of the two had to lose this game.
B-Sens Hero: Defensive support
As good as Lehenr was, he did have a lot of help from his defense corps. They cleared rebound and second chances when Lehner wasn't able to smother them, saving near-goals on several occasions. It's especially impressive when you consider that Binghamton started the game with only five defensemen, and played much of the overtime period with only four as Mark Borowiecki didn't see much ice in the extra frame. Craig Schira, Patrick Wiercioch, Andre Benoit, and overtime hero Geoff Kinrade deserve massive credit for the win on Friday night.
B-Sens Hero: Jim O'Brien
O'Brien was quiet for the first few games of the series, but his line with Erik Condra and Bobby Butler provided all of the offense for Binghamton tonight, with O'Brien himself putting up two assists.