WILKES-BARRE TWP. – There was a lot on the line for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during Saturday’s game against the Binghamton Senators.
Namely, the chance to clinch a playoff spot and gain the East Division lead from the Senators.
They did both.
A third-period goal from Scott Harrington broke a 1-1 tie and stood for a 2-1 win over Binghamton. Peter Mannino stopped 15-of-16 shots for the win and his 14th straight start allowing two goals or less.
The win improves the Penguins to 42-23-3-5 and gives them a two-point lead over Binghamton for first place in the division with three games left. With 92 points, the Penguins are third overall in the Eastern Conference and they clinched a playoff berth for the 12th consecutive year.
“It’s exceptional. That doesn’t just happen, it happens because you have a quality organization that’s really well run,” said head coach John Hynes. “When you have a team that makes the playoffs 12 years in a row, it’s a great tradition.”
On Saturday, the Penguins were looking not only to carry on that playoff tradition but for a little redemption as well against a Binghamton team that beat them 6-2 last Sunday.
The Penguins gained a great opportunity to go up early when they were given a two-man advantage for over a minute-and-a-half in the first period. The power-play unit set up shop in the Binghamton end and sent several shots on net. Brendan Mikkelson hit the crossbar from inside the blueline, and Binghamton goaltender Andrew Hammond smothered a Nick Drazenovic shot from the corner to end the threat.
It wasn’t until the end of the period when Binghamton got on the board first on a second-chance rebound shot from Ryan Dzingel with 47 seconds left.
Binghamton almost made it 2-0 early in the second when Cole Schneider missed an open net from in close.
After that, the Penguins began to get their chances. Anton Zlobin hit a post at the midway point, but again the only scoring of the period came at the end.
Still, the Penguins felt their effort was far better than the one they produced in last Sunday’s loss.
“We liked the way we played in the first period even though we were down 1-0,” Hynes said. “If you like how you’re playing, you stick with it. You don’t panic.”
While killing off a Binghamton power play with less than a minute remaining, Mikkleson sent a clearing attempt the length of the ice. Hammond stopped the puck but kicked it out to Carter Rowney, who beat everyone down the ice and had plenty of time to roof a shot under the crossbar to even things up at 1-1.
The Penguins held the Senators to only 10 shots through the halfway point of the third period, so with the defense buckling down it was time for the offense to break the tie.
Zlobin’s pass out of the zone to Drazenovic sprung a 2-on-1 with Spencer Machacek. With Binghamton’s Ben Blood the only one back, the Penguins gained the zone and Drazenovic waited for Blood to go down to take away the pass. When he did, Drazenovic shifted a pass behind Blood to Scott Harrington, who was trailing on the play and roofed a shot over Hammond for a 2-1 lead and the win.
“Today was a little bit of a challenge for us coming off how soundly we were beaten last Sunday,” Hynes said. “We played a much more complete game. The biggest thing was our mental toughness. It was a tight game but we stayed with it, came from behind and once we got the lead we managed the game real well.”
- G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (injury), D Philip Samuelsson (injury), D Brian Dumoulin, C Zach Sill (injury), RW Chuck Kobasew (veteran scratch), C Cody Sylvester, RW Bryan Rust, LW Scott Wilson, RW Matia Marcantuoni and LW Conor Sheary were scratched for the Penguins.
- Dumoulin was injured in Friday’s game in Syracuse and is day-to-day, according to Hynes.
- LW Harry Zolnierczyk was recalled by Pittsburgh on Friday.
- The Penguins wrap up their last three-in-three weekend at home today against Toronto. Faceoff is 4:05 p.m.
* * *
Penguins 2, Binghamton 1
Scoring – 1. BNG, Ryan Dzingel 1 (Prince) 19:13. Penalties – WBS, Carman (slashing) 3:33; BNG, Grant (holding) 7:02; BNG, Hamilton (closing hand on puck) 7:23; BNG, Schneider (tripping) 12:38; BNG, Puempel (fighting) 15:36; WBS, McNeill (fighting) 15:36.
Scoring – 2. WBS, Carter Rowney 2 (Mikkelson) shorthanded 19:44. Penalties – BNG, Dzingel (fighting) 3:27; WBS, Archibald (fighting) 3:27; WBS, Uher (checking to the head) 6:43; BNG, Sdao (interference) 9:44; BNG, Wideman (roughing) 17:14; WBS, Kostopoulos (high-sticking) 18:03; BNG, Robinson (fighting) 20:00; WBS, Mikkelson (fighting) 20:00.
Scoring – 3. WBS, Scott Harrington 5 (Drazenovic, Zlobin) 8:14. Penalties – WBS, Drazenovic (hooking) 9:58; WBS, Carman (delay of game) 13:39.
Shots on goal
Binghamton – 7-2-7-16
Penguins – 8-5-3-16
Binghamton – 0 of 5
Penguins – 0 of 5
Binghamton – Andrew Hammond 24-17-3 (15 saves – 17 shots)
Penguins – Peter Mannino 11-3-1 (15-16)
Binghamton – G Andrew Hammond, D Frederik Claesson, D Alex Grant, LW David Dziurzynski, C Derek Grant, RW Cole Schneider
Penguins – G Peter Mannino, D Brendan Mikkelson, D Scott Harrington, LW Anton Zlobin, C Andrew Ebbett, RW Spencer Machacek
1. WBS, Scott Harrington (game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Carter Rowney (goal) 3. WBS, Peter Mannino (15 saves, one goal allowed)
Referee – Trevor Hanson. Linesmen – Luke Murray, Jud Ritter
Attendance – 8,096