The Binghamton Senators continued their winning ways Friday night, taking down the North Division leading Toronto Marlies, 4-2 in front of 3,503 at the Broome County Arena. It was the third straight victory for the home squad.
Nathan Lawson, who has started and won all three games in net, since the Ottawa Senators training camp got underway, was good again Friday with 36 saves on 38 shots.
“I thought it was a pretty solid game,” said Lawson. “I played Toronto a lot last year when I was with Hamilton, so I was pretty familiar with a lot of their guys and their systems. We played a really solid game for 60 minutes.”
"Lawson’s been strong and he looks more confident every day,” said Binghamton coach Luke Richardson. “That really helps us to get on the board and that’s been our story all year.”
The B-Sens got on the board with 1:53 to go in the first period when Da Costa ripped a shot from the slot that banged off iron behind goaltender Jussi Rynnas and hit the net, before bouncing out. It was a blast and it gave the home team a 1-0 lead.
“Shane Prince made a great play to get the puck back to me,” Da Costa said. “I saw the middle was open and just shot it.”
That goal was the third in three games for Da Costa and his ninth overall.
“I guess I’m getting the bounces now, I didn’t get them before” he said with a laugh. “I’ve just been trying to play the best I can all year and now it’s going in, so I’m just happy with that.”
“He’s been real good,” said Richardson of Da Costa. “I think part of that is he wants to maybe show that he should be in the running for any kind of call-ups to Ottawa.”
Binghamton took that 1-0 lead into the locker room, along with 35 seconds of power-play time, thanks to a late cross-check against Toronto’s Jesse Blacker. The Marlies led 9-8 in shots after 20 minutes.
The B-Sens couldn’t capitalize on the remaining power-play time to start the second, but Toronto got their first chance on the man-up 5:39 into the period when Fredrik Claesson sat for tripping.
The Marlies made quick work of the power-play, as they won the faceoff, made one pass and Spencer Abbott fired by Lawson. Elapsed time, less than four seconds and just like that, it was a 1-1 game.
Binghamton regained the lead when Mika Zibanejad banked the puck off Rynnas, giving Binghamton a 2-1 lead. The assist went to Mark Stone, who took the original shot that was stopped. Zibanejad picked up the rebound and put it home.
“I saw the goalie was kind of out of his crease there," said Zibanejad. "I just took a swing at it I guess and it went in this time, so I’m happy.”
For Zibanejad, it was his third game back from injury and first goal in that time. Stone and Da Costa were credited with the assists.
“That’s good for my confidence and hopefully that can help me,” said Zibanejad of his goal. “The most important part is the team is winning and that’s exciting.”
Toronto picked up another penalty late in the second, leaving Binghamton with 34 seconds of power-play time when they hit the ice for the third period. The Marlies led 23-15 in shots, but Binghamton was up 2-1 where it counted.
Binghamton again came up empty on the overlapping power-play time to start the third. The Marlies got an early power-play of their own, when Hugh Jessiman was tagged with a boarding call 2:10 into the period.
Lawson was under fire for much of the sequence, making a handful of big stops including a couple that were fired right at the logo. He weathered the storm and Binghamton rewarded him on the other end.
Just as Jessiman came out of the box, Mike Hoffman made a great individual effort to move up ice and fire one into the top corner of the net, giving the home team a 3-1 lead.
It was a big insurance goal for the B-Sens and a big confidence boost for Hoffman, who spent time in Ottawa’s training camp this week, before being sent back to Binghamton.
“I was just going up with speed and cut to the middle,” Hoffman said of his goal. “(Jack) Downing had a good screen. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have scored but I made a good shot on the far post.”
“I thought Hoff skated really well tonight,” Richardson said. “I talked to him before the game to make sure his emotions were in check. I thought he showed a desire tonight to be the best player on the ice and he was definitely the fastest. He was one our best players and really put the game home for us.”
Local product Jerry D’Amigo helped the Marlies pull within 3-2 when he assisted on Dylan’s Yeo’s goal with 43.3 seconds left. Derek Grant answered with seven seconds left, finding the empty net.
Tempers flared after that goal, as Toronto’s frustration boiled over. Jessiman was checked hard into the boards and took exception. Chris Wideman was involved in a separate tussle at the same time. Penalties were handed out and order was restored.
When all was said and done, Binghamton found themselves with an AHL-best 54 points and sole possession of first place in the East Division, leading Syracuse by one point. The Crunch lost 4-1 to Rochester.
Binghamton (25-8-1-3) not only leads the division and their conference, they now have the best record in the American Hockey League, heading into tonight’s game at Bridgeport.
Highlights courtesy of the Binghamton Senators and SendtoNews