Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have had an incredible start to their season and lead the league in many categories, including best record percentage wise, but tonight it was all about the Binghamton Senators as they won 3-1 led by a 40 save performance by netminder Chris Driedger in front of a sell-out crowd on home ice.
Not only was the win needed, it was impressive. A gutsy effort from the PK units in shutting down the top power play in the AHL including a crucial five on three for 61 seconds late in the third period and with only five defensemen, as Guillaume Lepine received a five minute Aggressor call in the opening period trying to go after Dominik Uher as he turtled up to the ice. The call carries with it an automatic game misconduct leaving the defense short a man the rest of the night but Driedger stood tall with controlling his rebounds and keeping his game simple.
Senators get on the board first on a one-timer from the blue line by defenseman Michael Kostka for his first of the season for a power play goal at 17:31 in the first. The shot might have grazed a body as the Sens had Max McCormick and Eric O'Dell set waiting in front for a loose rebound with no one covering that might have rattled Pens' starter Matt Murray a bit.
Then a strange one as Binghamton goes up on a 2-0 lead as Cole Schneider, trying to draw a whistle ending play so to get another player on the ice and wrists the puck right at the cage but instead eluding Murray's glove. With Lepine out of the game, Luke Richardson chooses to not put a substitute player in the penalty box and takes his chances hoping to get a late whistle that would allow him to make the move later on. He doesn't get it, as play continues with the Sens still a man short even after the five minute time frame has elapsed. The goal is not credited as a shorthanded one but is Schneider's team leading eighth.
Wilkes-Barre finally solves Driedger late in the second, as talented rookie Dominik Simon nets his sixth putting the rubber up high in the far corner after receiving a behind the net pass from Tim Erixon with the defense caught losing sight of the puck. Sneaky play from Erixon as he looked to be rounding behind the net only to short pass to Simon in front.
In the third Binghamton holds the lead but continues to pepper Wilkes-Barre by applying pressure as Murray stops several shots by the seat of his pants. But the team comes together including that five on three as David Dziurzynski, Fredrik Claesson and Kostka doing the bulk on the PK. Dizzy later adds an empty netter with Murray pulled for his fifth of the season sending the fans home with a much needed win.
Driedger star of the game with Schneider and Kostka receiving honors as well. Good 60 minute effort tonight with something to build on.
POST GAME NOTES
- The special teams have dominated for WBS this season and that's what they have relied upon as they entered the game with the leagues best percentage on the power play, while ranking 3rd on the PK. The Pens also had the most shots on average, most goals and best defense on average.
- Schneider and Tobias Lindberg switch lines and Ben Harpur back in playing with Claesson after sitting out last weekend. However, Claesson started the night with Kostka on the first unit with Lepine and Harpur on the third, but everything went back to the norm before Guy got tossed.
- Binghamton's week off in-between games seemed to have payed off as on Monday according to Richardson, they worked out hard in the gym and hard on the ice. Had Tuesday off, but returned for double sessions on Wednesday before working on special teams on Thursday.
- I thought Harpur played better tonight and was more assertive at times but has a ways to go as it's always a slow progress for young defenseman as they learn the adjustments at the pro level. My daily Patrick Mullen rant recap, which I'm always being harsh, (and deserving so) takes a slight break tonight as the D did what they had to do being shorthanded and all.
- Lindberg with a nice steal near center ice sending the puck to a streaking Max McCormick for a breakaway only to be denied by Murray's leg save. I like the move with the two playing on the same line as it sets well for their future in the organization that could lead up with them together in Ottawa. Let them develop some chemistry with McCormick taking the reins.
- Shots end up the Penguins way 41-31 but ended up 0/6 on the PP while Bingo was 1/6.
- Daniel Alfredsson and Pierre Dorion again in attendance taking the game in from one of the suites following Alfie showing up last Saturday for the first time.
- Up next another tilt with the talented Toronto Marlies on Sunday afternoon before returning home for a Thanksgiving Eve game against this same Penguins club.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.