That line of Cowick, Pageau and Hugh Jessiman were big all night long for the B-Sens, who were bolstered by Nathan Lawson between the pipes, with 35 saves on 36 shots.
“I thought we skated really well and drove the net well,” said Binghamton coach Luke Richardson. “We basically skated our best tonight in a long time, for 60 minutes and that’s what won us the game.”
The B-Sens got down 5-1 in shots early and then Stephane Da Costa took a tripping penalty with 13:28 left, giving Rochester the first power-play of the game.
Both Richardson and the players have stressed all year that they still have confidence when they are killing a penalty, because the other team relaxes a bit, not expecting to give up a goal. That allows the B-Sens to take chances and go all out to get the puck.
They had nine shorthanded goals coming into Wednesday night and Cowick would add to that against the Amerks’ second-ranked power-play.
Pageau and Cowick were in together shorthanded and Pageau let a long blast go that Rochester goalie David Leggio was able to kick out. The puck went right to Cowick, who was there to put it home and give Binghamton a 1-0 lead, with 12:28 left.
“Anytime you can kill off a penalty and score a goal while doing it sets the tone for the game,” said Cowick, who has six goals this season. “It makes them think twice about their power play.”
Binghamton’s league-leading penalty kill would extinguish four out of five chances Wednesday, but Luke Adam would tie the score at one, when he tipped home a Nick Crawford shot, with two seconds left in a Jessiman roughing call and 5:10 to go in the period.
The B-Sens would regain the lead when Cowick took a shot and Leggio went down to get it, but the puck was loose, allowing Cowick to get his own rebound and push it by Leggio, giving Binghamton a 2-1 lead with 1:39 to go. Jessiman and Pageau earned the assists.
The shots were 14-13 in favor of Binghamton at the end of one period.
Another penalty against Da Costa put Binghamton on the defensive with 12:58 to go, but the penalty killers did their job. With Da Costa out of the box, he skated in with Cowick and Pageau. Pageau took a shot that Leggio stopped, Cowick took his chance, that was stopped, but not covered and that left the door open for Da Costa, who scooped it home, upping Binghamton’s lead to 3-1.
Jack Downing, one of the call-ups from Elmira showed a great individual effort, skating through a shoulder check from Rochester’s Drew Schiestel and scoring from the right circle, to extend Binghamton’s lead to 4-1, at the 11:51 mark of the second.
“He really has improved his skating in the year and half I’ve seen him play,” Richardson said. “He has nice hands and he’s not afraid to go to the net. (Amerks goalie David) Leggio didn’t have much of a chance on that -- Downing’s worked really hard all year in Elmira for this opportunity and I was happy for him.”
Da Costa’s second goal of the night came off a pretty feed by Mark Stone from behind the net, with 5:27 left to go in the second, to make it 5-1.
“In the second period, we had a lot of offensive zone time,” said Richardson. “That just wears you down defensively. The guys put the time and effort in skating and got rewarded in the offensive zone.”
Binghamton scored four even-strength goals and had just one abbreviated power-play of about four seconds.
Lawson, who was a healthy scratch many nights with Lehner and Bishop playing so well before getting the call to Ottawa, looked a bit winded at times during the B-Sens win over Norfolk on Saturday. Wednesday night, he showed poise and patience in the net and it paid off.
“Nathan Lawson’s been really solid for us,” said Richardson. “I think we did a real good job to keep pucks to the outside and limited a lot of second shots, but when we do give up scoring chances, he’s been solid.”
“He (Lawson) stepped up and is doing a great job, picking up where (Ben) Bishop and (Robin) Lehner left off,” said Da Costa, referring to the two goalies called up to Ottawa for training camp. “It’s great for us because he wins games.”
Rochester reeled off 10 shots in the third period, while Binghamton took seven. Neither team found the back of the net.
This was Binghamton’s second game since losing not only the goaltenders to Ottawa, but guys like Jakob Silfverberg, Mike Hoffman on offense, along with Captain Andre Benoit, Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Wiercioch on defense.
The obvious thought is, well, it’s happening to every team in the league, everybody is losing guys… and that’s true, but Binghamton lost guys at key positions and some may be for an extended time. That puts pressure on some of the young guys who are not only not used to playing at this level day-in-and-day-out, but playing with guys they don’t play with every day.
“We wanna make sure we do the basic things and it’s hard to do it every time out,” said Richardson. “They did a great job to stay the course tonight. There are different distractions with the lockout ending and people going up and down. That really shows the mental toughness of this team and I think it heightens the effort that was out there tonight, physically and mentally.”
Binghamton (24-8-1-3) will look for their third straight win Friday night, when the Toronto Marlies come to town for a 7:05 p.m. face-off at the Broome County Arena.