Matt O'Connor had a moment early on tonight as he shook his head questioning his thought process when he coughed up the puck from behind his own net that almost cost him a goal, and would've likely also cost him the game. From that point on, he buckled down and settled in as the Penguins came on strong outshooting the Senators 29-6 in the final two periods highlighted by a 20-3 shot advantage in the second.
I do believe O'Connor has turned the corner with that otherwise gaffe of a play. It's something to build on.
Meanwhile, Pens' Derrick Pouliot's goal 3:55 into OT was a beauty as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defeated the Binghamton Senators 4-3 in OT on Thanksgiving Eve. As I mentioned above, the Penguins poured it on in the final periods and ended up with a 41-21 total shot advantage. You're not going to win too many games with that sort of differential, but the Sens did come close in pulling it off.
Two soft Penguins goals in the first five minutes of play as Carter Rowney scored with a fluke one up and over O'Connor from up close that give the Pens the early 1-0 lead. Then 70 seconds later, Conor Sheary slips the puck over to the slot where it grazes off the stick of Kael Mouillierat through O'Connor's five hole and just like that, making it a 2-0 game.
Binghamton makes it a game with Cole Schneider's smooth circle-to-circle pass to Eric O'Dell setting him up for the one-timer and scores his eighth of the season getting past goaltender Matt Murray for a power play goal.
In the second, O'Connor has his 'moment' and buckles down giving his team a chance to tie it, and they do. Schneider scores his ninth on a re-direct off a slap pass from Patrick Mullen on the blueline that beats Murray in front, again for a power play tally. Sens then kill off a critical five on three for a 1:17 as David Dziurzynski, Fredrik Claesson and Mark Fraser do a fine job in shutting down the Pens high octane PP.
BSens would take the lead early in the third with O'Dell creating a turnover from behind the net as Ryan Dzingel sets in the slot and takes advantage of the miscue shooting high over Murray's right shoulder for a 3-2 lead. O'C continues to hold down the fort making a nice glove save on Sheary, but the Pens would soon tie it up with less then seven minutes left to play in the third period. Dominik Simon takes advantage of a screen set up by a moving Carter Rowney and lets one go from the wall, as O'C likely never saw it.
In overtime, both teams would get their chances on the three-on-three action but Wilkes-Barre prevails with a wrist shot from Pouliot that goes in by O'Connor's glove side as he was slow to react, giving the visiting rivals the road win by a 4-3 margin.
POST GAME NOTES
- With Colin Greening up Max McCormick slides in his position with Zack Stortini and David Dziurzynski at center and had a really nice game. Frederik Claesson/Ben Harpur pairing moved up to the second unit replacing Guy Lepine/Chris Carlisle, as the latter didn't see much of the ice in the third period with the first two units rotating shifts.
- Senators shots by period including overtime; 12 - 3 - 3 - 3.
- Stortini and Tom Sestito were involved in a scrum following the end of the first and both were penalized to open up the second. The two had prepared a date during intermission and took matters into their own hands when their penalties expired with Stortini landing a big right sending Sestito to the ice. It had no barring to the outcome of the game, but added to the entertainment value.
- O'Connor looked stronger as the night wore on in not giving in like in his past outings. Not sure he brought much down with him from his time up in Ottawa, but it's slowly starting to come together. I'll admit, despite the losses, this is the part that is exciting for me in watching a player develop before your very eyes.
- Nick Paul continues to improve as the big rookie skates on the line with the talented puck mover Tobias Lindberg, who returns after his second benching of the season last Sunday in Toronto.
- Good night for the special teams as the BSens were 2/2 on the PP, while shutting down the Pens on the PK netting a 0/5 result.
Friday night Sens have a game in Albany with the Devils, then return home on Saturday to face the Rochester Americans to round up the month of November and completing three games in four nights.
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.