The Binghamton Senators have had two consecutive chances to take over first place this week and on both occasions, were not able to capitalize.
After Wednesday’s loss 3-1 loss to Rochester, with the first place Syracuse Crunch idle -- the B-Sens were back at it Friday night hosting the Adirondack Phantoms, who took advantage of Binghamton mistakes and skated away with a 3-2 victory.
Cole Schneider scored for Binghamton with 5:50 left in the game Friday night to tie things up at two, but Adirondack answered with 4:25 left, to put the game away.
“You can’t play half a game, you have to play 60 minutes,” said Binghamton coach Luke Richardson. I thought the last two games we actually had a chance to stay in the two games not playing our best hockey but we gave the other teams both games.”
Binghamton came into Friday’s game with 36 wins, compared to Adirondack’s 23. They came in one point out of first place in their division, compared to Adirondack sitting in fifth place in their division
This game was a classic example of why games are not played on paper.
Binghamton came out of the gate strong, getting three power-plays within the first 10 minutes. They came up empty on the first two, but Stephane Da Costa got Binghamton on the board, beating Phantoms netminder Brian Boucher high, over the glove, to give Binghamton a 1-0 lead with 11 seconds gone in the man-up. Brett Lebda and Shane Prince assisted on the tally.
Things started to fall apart for Binghamton with 3:53 left in the first. Shane Prince got a double-minor for high-sticking and that was followed soon after by a Kyle Bushee delay-of- game call, as he put the puck up over the glass.
The result was an extended 5-on-3 power-play that found Binghamton netminder Nathan Lawson under fire. He made some key saves in the sequence, but with 28 seconds left on the 5-on-3, Garrett Roe banged one home to tie things at one.
It took just 14 seconds on the remaining 5-on-4 power-play for Adirondack to find the net again, as Lawson seemed to lose track of the puck and left it in the crease to give Matt Mangene all day to put it up and under the crossbar.
All of a sudden, a seemingly string first period for Binghamton was anything but, with two goals in the final 1:14 of the period.
“That’s what happens when you put your penalty killers to work too often and too hard,” Richardson said. “We didn’t get enough clears and enough faceoff wins. That’s the best part of their (Adirondack’s) game, they really snap the puck around on the power-play and eventually that wears you down.”
Binghamton started the second period with Lebda in the box, as he was handed a delay-of-game penalty with 28.5 left in the first.
The B-Sens killed that penalty and a 5-on-3 later in the period, keeping it a one goal game.
Lawson got a little help from a friend with 21 seconds left when the Phantoms came in with speed and got the puck behind Lawson in the blue paint. Defenseman Chris Wideman dove behind Lawson and batted the puck out of the crease, just before it crossed the goal line.
With penalties mounting again in that second period, Binghamton was skating backwards for much of it and managed just seven shots on goal, compared to Adirondack’s 16.
“In the second period we just weren’t good. We weren’t disciplined in our play or our penalties,” said Richardson. “Then third period we really tried hard and pushed, but you can’t play a half game.”
Binghamton got their chances early in the third, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau getting in on Boucher early, but unable to get it by him.
Binghamton took advantage of lackluster defense by the Phantoms when Danny New dumped the puck over to Cole Schneider, who had no one around him and just wristed it past Boucher, to tie the game at two, with 5:58 left.
Unfortunately, it took the Phantoms only 1:33 to answer as Tyler Brown wristed one past Lawson, to give the Phantoms a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
“We had a pinch in the neutral-zone and you can’t pinch as a defenseman when there are three guys going by you,” said Richardson of the final goal. “That gives them a 2-on-1 and a wide open shot. It doesn’t happen very often in a game, but it was a good shot.
Lawson stopped 33-of-36 shots Friday and definitely kept his team in the game.
“The last two games I thought our goaltending was the key to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win,” said Richardson. “We gotta make sure we support him by playing better for 60 minutes in front of him.”
With Syracuse losing 4-3 to Norfolk in a shootout Friday, Binghamton (36-19-1-5) is now two points out of first in the East Division. A win on either Wednesday or Friday would’ve given Binghamton possession of first place.
Now it is the B-Sens turn to take on Norfolk, who comes in with a record of 29-26-4-1.
The B-Sens are home again tonight for Hall of Fame induction night at the Broome County Arena. Bob Carr and Al Hill will be inducted in a pre-game ceremony, meaning the game will likely start closer to 7:15 p.m.
Game highlights courtesy of SendToNews and the Binghamton Senators.