WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Sahir Gill was aware of the expectations when he was penciled in on the top line with Kevin Porter and Tom Kostopoulos for Saturday’s game against the Binghamton Senators.
And Gill produced like a top-six forward, registering his first two-goal game in the AHL to lead the Penguins to a 4-2 win.
Casey DeSmith stopped 30 of 32 shots and the penalty kill was a perfect 6 for 6 as the Penguins (35-11-3-0) earned their 20th win at home.
“It changes your mindset a little bit,” Gill said of being moved up to the top line. “You get a chance on the top two lines, you try to make a few more plays than you’re used to. You’re out there with skilled players so there’s plays to be had.”
The Penguins struck quickly in the first period with David Warsofsky connecting on a blast from the point and Gill getting his first on a turnaround shot at the corner. Both goals came within the first five minutes and Binghamton goaltender Matt O’Connor, who stopped three of the five shots he faced, was pulled for Chris Driedger.
Gill got the Penguins on the board quickly in the second period when he poked in a loose puck, and Dominik Simon ripped a wrister from the slot just 34 seconds later. The pair of goals came within the first two minutes of the period and gave the Penguins a 4-0 lead.
Gill’s goal was his fourth of the season, and three of those have come against Binghamton. Gill said he’s had good linemates whenever the Penguins play Binghamton, and that has resulted in his success.
“It’s a pretty easy game plan with (Kostopoulos) and (Porter). They’re smart players,” Gill said. “Just hang around the net and good things will happen. I was able to cash a couple in tonight.”
After building a 4-0 lead, the Penguins got sloppy, taking a couple penalties and allowing Binghamton back in it with two goals to cut the lead to 4-2.
“We came out hard at the start of the second period, but I didn’t like the rest of the period,” head coach Clark Donatelli said. “We got a little loose there and they kept coming.”
Penalties continued to haunt the Penguins in the third period as Patrick McGrath went off for elbowing followed by a Danny Kristo tripping call, but the penalty kill was up to the task, preventing the Senators from mounting a comeback.
Gill narrowly missed a hat trick after Binghamton pulled Driedger for the extra attacker. Gill skated in toward the empty net and had the puck swept off his stick just as he shot.
Still, Donatelli was happy with how Gill responded to playing on the top line.
“He got a different role,” Donatelli said. “He’s an offensive player and when you put him with top six players he can rise to that occasion.”
• D Stuart Percy, F Tom Sestito (veteran scratch), D Lukas Bengtsson, D Barry Goers and C Thomas Di Pauli were scratched for the Penguins.
• The Penguins are now 16-1-1 in the second game of back-to-back contests.