BINGHAMTON – The Binghamton Senators made it look easy on Friday night in front of 3023 fans at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena as they defeated the Albany Devils 5-2. Binghamton was powered by a flurry of goal scorers, including Derek Grant who scored two goals. Added into the mix was Matt Puempel, who scored on this, his 21st birthday. That calls for a celebration.
“It’s a good day, that’s for sure,” Puempel exclaimed at the start of his interview.
“I had some family come to town and the game spoke for itself,” he continued.
It was Albany (23-12-3-3 52 points, 2nd Northeast) that stuck first just over a minute in as Stefan Matteau scored his seventh goal at the 1:09 mark. Mattias Tedenbe had the initial shot of the wraparound, but Binghamton netminder Andrew Hammond made the stop with his pad, inadvertently sending the puck through the crease to Artem Demkov who passed it to Matteau who let go a hard shot to make it 1-0 Devils.
“Once we got through the first penalty kill and we got our legs under us I thought we did a really great job of skating,” coach Luke Richardson said.
The Sens (26-12-0-3 53 points, 1st East) were able to scrape together a goal to knot it up, but it was a sluggish period for both teams until a penalty on Chris McKelvie put Binghamton on their second powerplay of the night.
Mike Hoffman, who was playing the right point, fed it to defenseman Chris Wideman on the left side. Wideman let go a hard shot that was redirected by Puempel’s stick to make it a 1-1 tie. It was Puempel’s 15th of the year at 15:27.
“It was a real good look by Wideman,” Puempel said. “When it’s a high tip like that it’s all about the shooter and the tipper just has to get a stick on it.
“It was a good screen by Cole Schneider.”
The second stanza belonged to the Senators, as they exploded for three goals, equating to a total of five unanswered. After a very early penalty to Andre Petersson, Grant set the tone with his third shorthanded goal of the year and fifth overall.
It was a choppy pass from Corey Cowick that set up the play, the 14th shorthanded goal for the team, at 1:25. Grant was positioned at the blue line and a choppy pass found his stick and he was able to fake out the goalie to make 2-1.
“I saw an opening through the middle,” Grant said. “I was able to knock it down and I think their D was caught flat footed. I knew I had some time.”
“You’re out against the power play,” Cowick explained. “Those guys are the best players and you want to outwork them and shut them down. It’s almost salt in the wounds when you score a [penalty kill] goal. It shuts the whole team down.”
Binghamton never looked back.
“I thought we really took over the game once we got that shorthanded goal,” Richardson said.
“We’re starting to learn to finish teams now,” Cowick said. “In the beginning of the year we’d have teams down and out and all of the sudden they’d trickle back in. We’d have ourselves in overtime or a shootout. I think our killer instinct is starting to come in.”
At the 14:57 mark, David Dziurzynski had a wrap around attempt that Keith Kinkaid stopped with the pad. Much like the Albany goal, it went right to Cowick who took the shot as he was falling down to make it 3-1 on his eighth of the year. Wacey Hamilton also found the scoresheet on the goal.
“I was fortunate enough to be in the right situation,” Cowick said.
Just 1:59 later (at 16:56) Shane Prince got a feed from Petersson, who was in the right circle. On the wheel play, Prince was in the left slot and wristed his ninth of the year to put the game well out of reach at 4-1. Jim O’Brien assisted on the goal.
1:26 into the final period, Grant lit the lamp again, this time taking the puck away from the defender tying up Puempel. Grant skated from the left circle into the slot and made it 5-1 with one flick of the wrist, netting his sixth of the year and 2nd of the night. Wideman had the other assist.
Albany had the last word, however. Scott Timmins tipped in a weak shot from Alexander Urbom at 17:56 to make it 5-2. It was a weak goal that put a slight damper on an otherwise stellar performance for Hammond. The goalie stopped 27 shots and stood on his head to keep the game from getting close in the third.
Binghamton is rolling, having scored 17 goals in their last 3 games (6,6,5) since losing to Adirondack January 15. They take on the Rochester Americans Saturday at 7 while Albany heads home to battle the Phantoms. The two teams will meet again Sunday at the Times Union Center.
- Nathan Lawson missed his fourth straight game after coming down with possibly flu-like symptoms that may be related to food poisoning, according to Richardson. He will be a game time decision tomorrow night.
- Kinkaid was assessed a misconduct 17:30 into the 2nd for intentionally hitting a puck out of play. We will be on the lookout for a possible suspension from this offense.
AROUND THE AHL:
- Zach Boychuck had a hat trick (16,17,18) as the Charlotte Checkers steamrolled the Oklahoma City Barons 9-3
- GOALIE FIGHT: In Norfolk, Penguins goalie Jeff Deslauriers and Admirals netminder John Gibson went at it 6:09 into the second. Deslauriers was disciplined to 19 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct for the altercation, and was replaced by Eric Hartzell. Gibson was assessed a double minor for the altercation. The Penguins lost the game 4-1.
INSIDE HOCKEY 3 STARS:
1. Derek Grant (BIN) 2 G
2. Corey Cowick (BIN) G, A
3. Matt Puempel (BIN) G
Honorable Mention: Andrew Hammond (BIN) W, 27 Sv