The Binghamton Senators made be rock bottom of the Eastern Conference but they‘ve been far from an easy touch at times this season. Just ask Toronto who have fallen to defeat twice against Binghamton, most recently a 6-5 OT loss where recent addition Tobias Lindberg scored the winner.
Coming into this encounter, the B-Sens had won four straight, out-scoring opponents 14-4 in the process.
The visiting Senators weren’t in the mood for open entertaining hockey in front of the children packed into Ricoh for a school day game.
Toronto were limited to just two shots inside the opening four minutes and would only create their first gilt edged chance at the seven minute mark.
William Nylander made a play to keep the puck inside the offensive zone while almost on his backside.
Quickly up on his skates, he sped down the left and delivered a wonderful backhand sauce pass to Zach Hyman by the left of the net. Hyman wasted no time in backhanding the puck across the crease to Kasperi Kapanen who conspired to put his effort wide
It would be Ottawa’s affiliate who opened the scoring with the clock registering 9:01.
Mike Kostka found Travis Ewanyk at the bottom of the right circle. It looked as if he would look to pass to a better positioned team-mate before firing the puck past Garret Sparks short-side, from a seemingly impossible angle
It’d take 58 seconds for Toronto to tie the game. Kapanen held the puck just outside the blue line, allowing Andrew Campbell to carry the puck into the offensive zone. With Nylander to his right he dished the puck off to his more talented team-mate and Nylander produced a wonderful shot that was past Matt O’Connor in a flash. It was all about the release for the Swedish forward as he scored his 17th of the season. Binghamton had prodded the wounded tiger and Toronto went ahead just 41 seconds later.
A sustained spell of puck possession in the visitors zone ended with T.J Brennan firing a measured shot that Hyman redirected in front past a helpless O’Connor
Binghamton were handed a lifeline to recover from that double blast as the officials handed Nikita Soshnikov two minutes for slashing, two for questioning the call and then penalised Toronto’s bench for questioning the call with another two minutes. Terry Koharski was the lone referee for this encounter and for those who have watched him officiate before, these calls would come as no surprise.
The Marlies would kill the two man deficit with consummate ease, relying on one brave shot block from Hyman and Sparks clinging onto a big shot from Kostka.
The second portion of the penalty, down by just a single man, Binghamton failed to fire a shot on Sparks as Toronto’s penalty killers rose to the occasion.
The Marlies pushed hard to increase the lead late in the period and Frederick Gauthier was impeded from a scoring position but surprisingly there was no call. Carrick came close on the follow up play and Toronto would earn a deserved power play as Michael Sdo fired the puck out of play.
The man advantage would carry over into the middle frame but despite copious amounts of possession in the B-Sens zone, Toronto were unable to really test O’Connor enough.
Lindberg would be guilty of hooking Sdo seconds after he left the box and it was back to the PK for the Marlies.
The home team killed that penalty with ease but the second period would proved to be a becalmed twenty minutes of play at even strength, with the teams sharing 15 shots with perhaps only two decent scoring chances. Kapanen showed a burst of speed that saw him drive the play from his own zone to the visitors in a flash. He mishandled in front of net but Hyman almost benefited from the bouncing puck that no-one seemed to be able to control, but his effort was blocked.
A mistake from Rinat Valiev with seven minutes to play allowed Buddy Robinson in behind Toronto’s defense. A combination of a desperate diving play from Campbell and Sparks not biting on the forward‘s moves, conspired in Robinson putting his effort wide of the net.
In the final ninety seconds, a shot from Soshnikov deflected into the pass of Lindberg but with an easy tap-in chance awaiting him, the puck was caught between his skates and by the time he sorted his feet, the chance was gone.
The third period was also lacking in excitement as both teams were guilty of broken plays, with defense very much on top for the most part. Sparks had to be switched on 70 seconds in as a one-time effort from Casey Bailey tested his movement across the net.
If anything it was the Marlies who looked to be their own worst enemies as the game moved into the final eight minutes. Binghamton unable to capitalise on a couple of turnovers that put the home team on the back foot.
A fourth goal was looking increasingly unlikely and with an offensive face-off earned with 1:12 to play, the senators pulled O’Connor from net for the extra attacker. Twice Toronto would ice the puck in searching for the empty net goal to seal the win. Matt Frattin would be denied from scoring the insurance marker with his effort waived off as he was deemed offside.
Play went back the full length of the ice but thankfully Sam Carrick won the ensuing face-off. His team-mates turned the puck over before winning it back quickly and from his own goal line, Carrick fired the puck into Binghamton’s net to secure yet another two points in a hard fought 3-1 victory.
Post Game Notes:
There were debut’s for Colin Smith and John Kurtz. Neither made much of an impact but we can certainly expected better from Smith as he get’s his feet wet.
Garret Sparks will probably be disappointed with the goal he gave up but he was solid in making 22 saves.
Brennan’s assist was his 30th of the season and takes him to 50 points in what’s been another fantastic year for him offensively.
Sam Carrick scored his sixth goal of the season in just his second game back. He was heavily leaned on late in the game by Sheldon Keefe, with his experience a key factor along with his face-off skills.
Toronto have won four straight games but perhaps more importantly have only allowed five goals during that time as they look to play a more structured game.