BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Chris Collins had just been slammed hard to the ice by the 6-foot-6, 231-pound Hugh Jessiman, but he wasn’t fazed.
While Jessiman skated away, Collins got up, raised his stick for the puck and promptly skated across the blueline to score on a long wrist shot.
The goal gave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a lead that they would hold onto for most of the night en route to a 3-2 win over the Binghamton Senators in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup on Sunday.
Riley Holzapfel scored the first goal for the Penguins, Warren Peters tallied the game-winner and Jeff Zatkoff was stellar for the second straight night, stopping 35 of 37 shots.
The win gives the Penguins a commanding 2-0 lead as the best-of-5 series heads back to Wilkes-Barre for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4, if neccesary, on Saturday.
“It’s a nice feeling but not a comfortable feeling,” said head coach John Hynes. “It’s a long series and the next game is always the most important.”
Collins’ second period goal broke a 1-1 tie that was established in the first period.
The Penguins power play got them on the board first after Binghamton’s Derek Grant received a double minor for a high stick on Holzapfel just 18 seconds into the game.
During the second half of the four-minute power play, Binghamton’s Wacey Hamilton was hobbled after blocking a shot and the Penguins took advantage, getting the puck down low where Holzapfel beat Nathan Lawson to make it 1-0.
Binghamton answered late in the period when Matt Puempel snuck behind the defense and beat Zatkoff to the stickside to even things up.
After sitting out Game 1, Hynes put Collins in the lineup knowing his tenacious play would make an impact, and it did.
“He has something to prove. He was out of the lineup,” Hynes said. “You’re putting in a hungry guy that has playoff experience and he got rewarded tonight.”
While Collins was battling Jessiman for the puck in the neutral zone, he was slammed to the ice hard. As Collins stood up, he saw Brian Dumoulin with the puck, raised his stick and accepted a pass on his tape.
“I skated in and saw (Paul) Thompson up high, so I was looking at him and just shot without looking at the net,” Collins said. “I think it kind of surprised (Lawson).”
The Penguins added to their lead with less than two seconds left in the period when Peters backhanded the puck under Lawson during a pileup in the crease.
The goal would turn out to be the game-winner, but for the time-being it gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
During a penalty-filled third period, the Penguins were forced to kill off two Binghamton power plays and the Senators came close to getting on the board a second time. During the first power play, Binghamton’s Stephane Da Costa’s shot hit the post followed by a shot wide of an open net by Buddy Robinson.
The Penguins did receive 1:31 of a two-man advantage later in the period but were unable to extend their lead.
“We won the second period and our goal was to the the third. We didn’t,” said captain Joey Mormina. “We played hard, but we gave them life by not capitalizing on the five-on-three.”
Binghamton did score a power play goal with 19 seconds left to make it 3-2, but the Penguins closed the door for the final few seconds to preserve the win.
Despite taking a 2-0 series lead back to Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins aren’t taking anything for granted. According to Mormina, the plan for Game 3 is to play like they have everything to lose.
“We can’t expect them to rollover. Come Thursday we have to be the most desperate team,” he said. “It’s our building and we have to play that game like our season’s on the line.”
- G Scott Darling, D Peter Merth, D Cody Wild, C Chris Barton, RW Christiaan Minella, C Dominik Uher, LW Anton Zlobin, D Harrison Ruopp and LW Matia Marcantuoni were scratched for the Penguins.
- Winger Steve MacIntyre was reassigned by Pittsburgh before Sunday’s game.
- Warren Peters’ goal was the 11th of his AHL postseason career, while Collins’ was his fifth.
Penguins 3 Binghamton 2
Penguins 1 2 0 — 3
Binghamton 1 0 1 — 2
Scoring – 1. WBS, Riley Holzapfel 1 (Thompson, Gibbons) power play 2:48. 2. BNG, Matt Puempel 1 (Stone, Wideman) 14:35. Penalties – BNG, Grant (high-sticking – double minor) :18; WBS, Farnham (roughing) 6:19; BNG, Dziurzynski (roughing) 6:19.
Scoring – 3. WBS, Chris Collins 1 (Dumoulin, Reese) 12:03. 4. WBS, Warren Peters 1 (Megna, Sill) 19:58. Penalties – WBS, Farnham (tripping) 3:14; BNG, Jessiman (elbowing) 4:59.
Scoring – 5. BNG, Chris Wideman 1 (Da Costa) power play 19:41. Penalties – BNG, Hamilton (high-sticking) 1:45; WBS, Smith (tripping) 2:45; WBS, Kolarik (interference) 3:40; BNG, Jessiman (goaltender interference) 3:40; WBS, Mormina (interference) 4:59; BNG, Lebda (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct) 8:32; BNG, Borowiecki (roughing) 9:01; WBS, Mormina (holding) 19:35.
Shots on goal
Penguins – 13-6-5-24
Binghamton – 12-11-14-37
Penguins – 1 of 5
Binghamton – 1 of 4
Penguins – Jeff Zatkoff 2-0 (35 saves-37 shots)
Binghamton – Nathan Lawson 0-2 (21-24)
Penguins – G Jeff Zatkoff, D Joey Mormina, D Philip Samuelsson, LW Riley Holzapfel, C Chad Kolarik, RW Trevor Smith
Binghamton – G Nathan Lawson, D Mark Borowiecki, D Cody Ceci, LW Matt Puempel, C Stephane Da Costa, RW Mark Stone
1. WBS, Jeff Zatkoff (35 saves) 2. WBS, Chris Collins (goal) 3. WBS, Warren Peters Riley Holzapfel (goal)
Referee – Darcy Burchell, Keith Kaval. Linesmen – Jim Harper, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 3,066