WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Down by a goal with less than two minutes remaining, Beau Bennett raced into the Binghamton Senators zone with Trevor Smith on his wing. Bennett had a clear look at Binghamton goaltender Robin Lehner, and at the last second elected to send a pass across the slot to Smith, who couldn't get the shot off.
Binghamton raced down the other end and deposited the puck into an empty net to send the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to their 13th loss in the last 15 games by a score of 3-1.
Afterward, Bennett thought twice about his decision to pass instead of shoot.
Next time I think shooting will be the better option, he said.
But it still wouldn't have been a guaranteed goal, not the way Lehner played. The Binghamton netminder has now beaten the Penguins four times in five starts and has a miniscule 1.18 goals against average and a .968 save percentage against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
That's a heck of a goalie in there, Bennett said. He takes up so much of the net and he's so quick laterally.
The loss drops the Penguins to 15-17-2-1 on the season and their power play – which was blanked on five chances, is now 3-for-69 in the last 14 games. They are now 2-for-13 in their last 15 games and 1-for-5 against Binghamton.
Even worse, against the Senators the Penguins power play has yet to connect in 35 chances this season.
In an attempt to turn around the team's power play struggles, head coach John Hynes shuffled things up by putting 6-5, 250-pound Steve MacIntyre on the ice with the man advantage. His job: stand in front of the net.
Steve's a real big guy and they have a big goalie, Hynes said. (MacIntyre) is an intimidating guy and he gets a little bit of room in front of the net.
Although the move didn't result in a goal, Hynes did see some good things with his power play. The Penguins gained plenty of offensive zone time, created scoring chances and established puck possession, he said.
But while the Penguins struggled to obtain the end result – a goal, the Senators went to work early.
Binghamton struck first seven minutes into the opening period when Stephane Da Costa finished a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with a shot from the corner of the crease to make it 1-0.
Binghamton 3, Penguins 1
Period: Scoring – 1. BNG, Stephane Da Costa 6 (Silfverberg, Benoit) 6:27. Penalties – BNG, Cowick (interference) 11:58.
Second Period: Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, Farnham (interference) 2:49; BNG, Cannone (slashing) 4:31; WBS, Zatkoff (delay of game) 5:28; BNG, Gryba (high-sticking) 6:08; BNG, Cowick (fighting) 8:36; WBS, Sill (fighting) 8:36; BNG, Wiercioch (holding) 17:32; WBS, MacIntyre (roughing) 19:08.
Third Period: Scoring – BNG, Eric Gryba 3 (Cowick, Jessiman) power play 1:00. 3. WBS, Paul Thompson 10 (Dupuis, Tangradi) 4:45. Penalties – WBS, Holzapfel (cross-checking) 1:30; BNG, Jessiman (tripping) 11:57.
Shots on goal: Binghamton – 7-5-4-16; Penguins – 7-11-14-32
Power-play Opportunities: Binghamton – 1 of 3; Penguins – 0 of 5
Goaltenders: Binghamton – Robin Lehner 14-5-1 (31 saves – 32 shots); Penguins – Jeff Zatkoff 11-12-0 (13-15)
Starters:Binghamton – G Robin Lehner, D Patrick Wiercioch, D Andre Benoit, LW Mike Hoffman, C Stephane Da Costa, RW Jakob Silfverberg; Penguins – G Jeff Zatkoff, D Robert Bortuzzo, D Simon Despres, LW Beau Bennett, C Trevor Smith, RW Jayson Megna
Three Stars: 1. BNG, Eric Gryba (game-winning goal) 2. BNG, Robin Lehner (31 saves – 32 shots) 3. WBS, Paul Thompson (goal)