WILKES-BARRE TWP. – After Sunday’s game, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Barry Goers admitted he was a little rusty with interviews because he hadn’t done many lately.
But on the ice, there was no rust in Goers’ game as he set up a goal and added another to lead the Penguins to a 4-1 win over the division-leading Binghamton Senators.
Zack Torquato scored the game-winner, Nick Drazenovic scored his second goal in two games and goaltender Eric Hartzell stopped all but one of the 24 shots he faced in the win, which moves the Penguins to within one point of first-place Binghamton.
“It was more of what we needed,” head coach John Hynes said of the effort that resulted in scoring from all areas of the lineup. “The big thing is guys brought their elements to the game.”
For Goers, a 27-year-old defenseman who has spent most of his four-year career in the ECHL, that element was offense, along with his steady play at the blueline.
Goers helped get the Penguins on the board first when he skated behind the Binghamton net and dished a pass out to Anton Zlobin in front, who buried the shot for a 1-0 first period lead.
“We started playing a sound game and then, when you get that first goal, it just breeds confidence,” Hynes said.
The only blemish in the second period was a Binghamton goal on the second half of a four-minute power play. Other than that, it was all Penguins.
The top line of Harry Zolnierczyk-Drazenovic-Tom Kostopoulos produced for the third straight game. Early in the second period, Binghamton’s Mike Sdao skated off the ice after taking a Kostopoulos shot to the hand. Before the Senators could get a fifth player over the bench, Zonierczyk quickly sent a cross-crease pass to Drazenovic at the corner post for the Penguins’ second goal of the game.
Drazenovic now has goals in back-to-back games and, soon after the tally, teammate Torquato extended the Penguins lead with a clever faceoff play deep in the Binghamton end.
Instead of drawing the puck back, Torquato pushed it ahead, blew by center Jim O’Brien and ripped a bad angle shot that bounced in behind goaltender Nathan Lawson for a 3-1 lead.
Torquato — another player who spent most of his career in the ECHL — said it was important not to rely on the top line to do all of the offensive work.
“Our older guys set a good example. They play hard every night, and we have to follow their lead,” Torquato said. “We can’t just have one line, and tonight everyone stepped up.”
Goers made it 4-1 with his first AHL goal at 6:35 in the third period. Paul Thompson carried the puck into the Binghamton end, hit the brakes and fed a pass to Goers in the high slot, who roofed a shot over Lawson.
For a player who not too long ago was buried on the Penguins depth chart and was scratched for the last three games, Goers hopes the goal and assist will go a long way to keeping him in the lineup. In six games with the Penguins, Goers now has a goal and five points.
“It’s difficult to get into the lineup in this organization. I just have to try to bring something different and unique,” Goers said. “Try to be a spark for the team.”
The Penguins wrapped up the weekend winning two out of three and get a break before hitting the ice again this Wednesday with a home contest against Syracuse.
• D Peter Merth (injury), D Reid McNeill, C Cody Sylvester, D Nick D’Agostino, LW Bobby Farnham, C Adam Payerl (injury) and LW C.J. Severyn were scratched for the Penguins.
• The top line of Zolnierczyk-Drazenovic-Kostopoulos now has five goals and 10 points in the last four games.
Penguins 4, Binghamton 1
Scoring – 1. WBS, Anton Zlobin 2 (Goers, Torquato) 10:17. Penalties – BNG, Wideman (holding the stick) 2:08; WBS, Zlobin (interference) 7:47; WBS, Thompson (goaltender interference
Scoring – 2. WBS, Nick Drazenovic 7 (Zolnierczyk, Harrington) 4:14. 3. BNG, Cole Schneider 12 (Puempel, Wideman) power play 10:53. 4. WBS, Zack Torquato 2 unassisted) 17:46. Penalties – BNG, Hoffman (slashing) 4:14; WBS, Leblond (high-sticking – double minor) 8:06; WBS, Goers (holding) 12:50.
Scoring – 5. WBS, Barry Goers 1 (Thompson) 6:35. Penalties – BNG, Dziurzynski (boarding – major) 10:51; BNG, Da Costa (tripping) 17:14.
Shots on goal
Binghamton – 7-10-7-24
Penguins – 11-9-9-29
Binghamton – 1 of 5
Penguins – 0 of 4
Binghamton – Nathan Lawson 13-5-0 (25 saves – 29 shots)
Penguins – Eric Hartzell 5-2-1 (23-24)
Binghamton – D Mark Borowiecki, D Daniel New, LW Cole Schneider, C Stephane Da Costa, RW Mike Hoffman
Penguins – D Philip Samuelsson, D Brian Dumoulin, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, C Nick Drazenovic, RW Tom Kostopoulos
1. WBS, Zack Torquato (goal, assist) 2. WBS, Barry Goers (goal, assist) 3. WBS, Eric Hartzell (23 saves, one goal allowed)
Referee – Geno Binda, Pierre Lambert. Linesmen – Matt McNulty, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 4,162