In every long playoff run, a team will ask their goaltender to steal a game or two along the way, and in Game Five the Binghamton Senators asked--and Robin Lehner delivered. The rookie goaltender stopped 41 of 43 shots faced to guide the B-Sens to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Aeros, putting them within one win of the team's first Calder Cup Championship ever.
In the first period, the Senators had goals from Corey Locke and Erik Condra, but weren't able to build on a lead as Jean-Michel Daoust scored after each of them to keep the Aeros in it. Despite the shot clock favoring Houston by a 16-11 margin, the first frame ended with the two teams square at two.
Although it hardly seemed possible, the intensity was ramped up for the second period. Players from both sides were playing with a very physical edge and were obviously not seeing eye-to-eye, but the refs seemed to have put their whistles away, content to let these teams battle it out. Scoring chances were exchanged throughout, with Houston getting the lion's share and outshooting Binghamton 13-8, until Zack Smith scored with just nine seconds left in the middle period to give Binghamton the lead--a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Remarkably, Ryan Potulny's assist on Z. Smith's goal was his first point of the Calder Cup Finals.
Few of the B-Sens faithful used their seats through much of the third period, as they watched Houston continue to push the B-Sens in their final home game of the season. But Lehner wouldn't break, making some incredible saves and surviving some very close calls until Zack Smith scored his second straight to give Bingo the two-goal lead with just over four minutes left. Houston kept pushing and pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with 90 seconds left, but the B-Sens held on to win by a 4-2 score.
The teams head back to Houston for Game Six on Tuesday night, and the B-Sens will have the opportunity to win their first AHL Championship in that game.
B-Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
If Binghamton wins the Calder Cup, Lehner will be the reason. Rockin' Robin made 41 saves on 43 shots in game five, and shut the door on the Aeros through the second and third periods. Lehner has allowed only seven goals in five Calder Cup Final games.
B-Sens Hero: Zack Smith
Zack Smith has eight goals in the Calder Cup playoffs, but none were anywhere near as momentous as the two he scored in Game Five. He was a physical presence again, but it was his offense that really made Z. Smith stand out on Saturday night..
No Longer Boogeyman: Matt Hackett
After shutting down Binghamton in the first three games of the series, Hackett seems to have lost a bit of his mojo for the last two games. Hackett allowed only four goals in the first three matches, but has surrendered seven in the two games since then.