WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Zach Sill’s shorthanded goal in the third period of Thursday’s Game 3 against the Binghamton Senators gave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a boost.
Riley Holzapfel’s goal 10 minutes later gave them the series.
With starting netminder Jeff Zatkoff a late scratch, the Penguins rode a stellar goaltending effort from veteran backup Brad Thiessen and scored three times in the third period for a 3-2 win. The victory gave the Penguins a 3-0 sweep of the Senators and a ticket to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“It’s a nice feeling to do it in three games,” said head coach John Hynes. “We were prepared to play four or five if we had to, but mentally and physically it’s nice to be able to finish it and go into a bit of rest and recovery.”
Thursday’s game presented plenty of questions right off the bat when Thiessen was the first Penguin to skate onto the ice for warmups. Head coach John Hynes said the team was monitoring Zatkoff’s status since late Wednesday night and the decision to start Thiessen wasn’t made until 2 p.m. before the start of the game. Zatkoff is day-to-day, Hynes said.
With a new face in net, the Penguins found their struggles at the other end of the ice early on.
Binghamton jumped out to a 1-0 lead five minutes into the first period when Mark Stone picked off a Joey Mormina outlet pass and zipped it over to Matt Puempel in the slot, who fired the puck past Thiessen.
The lead held well into the third period as both teams exchanged a handful of scoring chances. The Penguins picked up the pace in the second period, outshooting Binghamton 14-7, but were unable to get anything past goaltender Nathan Lawson.
It wasn’t until nearly midway through the third period before they would solve Lawson, and they did it shorthanded.
The play started when Jayson Megna gained the puck and rushed up ice with Zach Sill on a two-on-one. Sill reached out and got enough of his blade on Megna’s pass to loft the puck over Lawson into the top corner to even things up 1-1.
The goal provided a huge momentum boost for the Penguins as did Sill’s celebration as he jumped against the glass.
“The celebration went a little bit overboard,” Sill said. “It was pure excitement and emotion that I couldn’t really control. We were fighting for a goal all game up until then and just weren’t getting it.”
After that, the goals got even bigger. With the Penguins on a power play with less than two minutes to play, Trevor Smith sent a backdoor pass out in front that Holzapfel one-timed into an empty net.
“Smitty made a great pass and it was easy to put it in there,” Holzapfel said of the goal, which is the second of his postseason career. “I haven’t had too much success in the playoffs in my career, so to get that one and keep the team moving on is a great feeling.”
Megna added an empty net goal that seemed to seal the win with 28 seconds left, but Binghamton did manage to score with two seconds on the clock.
The team will be off today and resume practice on Sunday. They’ll also watch the scores over the next few days to see who they will face next.
“We’ll enjoy this for a couple nights and I’m not sure we’ll be starting (the next series) for a little bit, so it’s nice,” Holzapfel said. “Binghamton played great tonight and all series, and they were a desperate team that wanted that win tonight.”
- G Jeff Zatkoff, D Peter Merth, D Cody Wild, C Chris Barton, RW Christiaan Minella, LW Bobby Farnham, LW Anton Zlobin, LW Steve MacIntyre, D Harrison Ruopp and RW Matia Marcantuoni were scratched for the Penguins.
- Hynes said Zatkoff is day-to-day and added his situation is “nothing serious” but is something pre-existing.
“It’s not a situation where we have to push him,” Hynes said. “We felt it was best that he had the day off. He’ll be back with us on Sunday.”
Binghamton 2 Penguins 3
Binghamton 1 0 1 — 2
Penguins 0 0 3 — 3
First Period: Scoring – 1. BNG, Matt Puempel 2 (Stone) 5:00. Penalties – WBS, Grant (boarding) :24; BNG
Second Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – BNG, Hamilton (high-sticking) :20; BNG, Jessiman (charging) 3:35; BNG, Borowiecki (roughing) 6:24; WBS, Collins (roughing) 6:24; WBS, bench – served by Dumoulin (delay of game) 14:33.
Third Period: Scoring – 2. WBS, Zach Sill 1 (Megna) shorthanded 7:32. 3. WBS, Riley Holzapfel 2 (Smith, Kolarik) power play 18:42. 4. WBS, Jayson Megna 1 (Sill, Mormina) empty net 19:32. 5. BNG, Mark Borowiecki 1 (Claesson, Dziurzynski) 19:58. Penalties – WBS, Smith (roughing) 5:58; BNG, Cannone (tripping) 17:14.
Shots on goal: Binghamton – 9-7-5-21; Penguins – 4-14-10-28
Power-play Opportunities: Binghamton – 0 of 4; Penguins – 1 of 5
Goaltenders: Binghamton – Nathan Lawson 0-3 (26 saves – 28 shots); Penguins – Brad Thiessen 0-0 (20-21)
Starters: Binghamton – G Nathan Lawson, D Mark Borowiecki, D Codi Ceci, LW Corey Cowick, C Wacey Hamilton, RW Dustin Gazley. Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D Joey Mormina, D Philip Samuelsson, LW Riley Holzapfel, C Trevor Smith, RW Chad Kolarik
Three Stars: 1. WBS, Zach Sill (goal, assist) 2. WBS, Riley Holzapfel (goal) 3. WBS, Jayson Megna (goal, assist)
Referee – Chris Ciamaga, Dave Lewis. Linesmen – Kiel Murchison, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 6,186