BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – For the second straight night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins needed some extra time to sort things out.
And unlike Friday’s shootout loss to Providence, Saturday turned out a bit better.
With three straight shootout goals, the Penguins outlasted the Binghamton Senators 3-2, gaining two valuable points. With a Connecticut loss, the Penguins move up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Just as important, they wrap up a three-game stint against two of the top teams in the conference with a pair of wins and points in all three contests. Saturday’s matchup was the second in three games against Binghamton and wraps up the season series between the East Division foes. The Penguins finish 4-6 against Binghamton.
A spirited fight off the opening faceoff between Zach Sill and Mark Borowiecki set the tone for the Penguins, leading to another strong start. Chad Kolarik got them on the board when he skated the puck into the offensive zone and lifted a wrister over Binghamton goaltender Nathan Lawson for a 1-0 lead at the midway point.
“Sill set the tone right off the bat and we were able to gain momentum from that,” said head coach John Hynes. “You could see the guys were ready to play and establish the forecheck right after that.”
The Penguins defense held the Senators without a shot until they got their first at 11:41. Jeff Zatkoff made the save on that one, but Binghamton’s second shot of the period seconds later connected after a Penguin turnover in the defensive end.
The Penguins outshot Binghamton 14-4 in the period but still carried a 1-1 tie into the second frame.
And that’s when Kolarik’s work in the offensive zone again gave the Penguins a lead.
With Binghamton’s Corey Cowick off for an unsportsmanlike conduct double-minor, the Penguins set up shop in the Binghamton end. Beau Bennett got the puck back to Kolarik at the high slot, who launched a wrist shot on net where it was tipped by Trevor Smith for a 2-1 lead.
The power play goal was the Penguins fifth in the last four games.
“Guys are taking pride in what they’re doing and this time of year there has to be production to win games,” Hynes said. “We’ve seen that from them the last few games.”
Penalty trouble struck the Penguins late in the second period. Chris Collins went off for hooking with six seconds remaining. As the teams lined up for the ensuing faceoff, Warren Peters was called for slashing, giving the Senators a five-on-three power play for a full two minutes carrying over into the third period.
The Penguins killed off the two-man advantage, led by a spectacular pad save from Zatkoff to rob Derek Grant of an open net.
On the night, the Penguins penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 on the night and they have allowed only one power play goal in 31 chances spanning the last seven games.
“The penalty kill came up huge again. Anytime you kill off a five-on-three for two minutes is huge, and that’s momemtum for the team right there,” Hynes said.