It was a whirlwind 24 hours for the Binghamton Senators, who had seven players leave for Ottawa Senators camp prior to Saturday’s game against Norfolk. The team lost a tough game Friday against Adirondack, but forged ahead Saturday with a 4-2 victory over the Admirals in front of 4,577 at the Broome County Arena.
Eric Gryba scored twice, including an empty-net bank shot off the boards with 13.5 seconds left that had just enough to cross the line.
“I’ve been playing pool for the last couple weeks, so I had a pretty good idea it was gonna go in,” Gryba said with a smile.
With both Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner in Ottawa, Nathan Lawson was the next man up and he made 38 saves including 17 in a third period that included four Norfolk Power-plays, three in succession.
Lawson had not seen game action since Oct. 20, but stood tall when needed and impressed coach Luke Richardson.
“I’m sure he felt lots of pressure and hasn’t played in a long time,” he said. “It’s different for goalies than it is everybody else. I was really happy for him and he came up real big for us, especially in the third period with the penalty kills. Your goalie always has to be your best penalty killer, so he was great.”
“He played awesome,” said Gryba of Lawson’s effort. “It’s not like it’s a surprise, you watch him in practice and he comes and works hard, he’s a heck of a goaltender.”
The B-Sens played a very solid first period, firing 18 shots on Andersen and beating him twice. Mark Stone tallied first, sending a shot from the right circle that beat Andersen over the glove. It was a solid individual effort for Stone, who had all five Norfolk skaters around him when he let it go.
Corey Cowick expanded the lead to 2-0 3:09 later, when he swept home a rebound of a Jean-Gabriel Pageau shot. The Admirals managed four shots in the period, none really threatening Lawson.
Norfolk would make a game of it in the second period, getting goals 5:11 apart. The first of those off the stick of Josh Brittain on the doorstep and then Ryan Lasch evened things up.
Gryba, who Richardson said just missed getting the call to Ottawa camp, would show his worth with 5:53 left in the period. With his team on the power-play, he unleashed a laser from the slot that beat Andersen up high. That was Gryba’s fourth of the season, assisted by Stephane Da Costa and Danny New, who earned his first AHL point.
Gryba’s empty-netter would ice things away and earn him second star honors.Lawson would get star of the game.
“He’s been a leader as one of our captains all year and he really showed that tonight,” Richardson said of Gryba. “He was big in all departments, not just scoring a goal and the empty-netter, but physical – a lot of minutes and a lot of great play. He was a leader for us tonight.”
Binghamton (23-8-1-3) saw leading scorer Jakob Silfverberg go to Ottawa, along with Mike Hoffman, but they did get a big weapon back Saturday, in Mika Zibanejad, who missed the last 18 games with various ailments.
"I thought he skated very well and I thought he shot the puck well and was dangerous tonight,” Richardson said. “He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but I think it was a real big step for him in the right direction.”
For more info: Norfolk @ Binghamton game report
With the Syracuse Crunch losing Saturday, Binghamton moved to within three points of the East Division lead. Next up will be a home game against the Rochester Americans at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night.