One more time, sudden death brought new life to the Binghamton Senators.
's goal at 10:01 of double overtime Friday night allowed the B-Sens to edge the Monarchs 2-1 at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. The result squared the best-of-seven Atlantic Division semifinal at 3-3. The deciding game in the opening-round Calder Cup playoff series goes Saturday night in Manchester (7 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com).
All three Binghamton wins in the series have come in overtime, including a 5-4 triumph on Wednesday night in Binghamton, N.Y., that allowed the B-Sens to stave off elimination. Only one team in American Hockey League history — the Syracuse Crunch in 2008 against the Manitoba Moose — recorded four OT victories in a series.
Five of six games in this tightly-contested series have been decided by one goal — four of them in overtime — setting the stage for what figures to be a dramatic conclusion on Saturday.
The B-Sens most likely wouldn't still be playing were it not for the efforts of 19-year-old goaltender Robin Lehner
, who stopped 51 Manchester shots on Friday night in just his second career AHL playoff start. Included was a clutch save on penalty shot by the Monarchs' Bud Holloway five minutes into the second overtime period. Lehner was especially strong in the first period, when the Monarchs posted a 16-7 edge in shots but couldn't beat the Swedish stopper.
Friday's game stayed scoreless until Justin Azevedo brought the home crowd of 3,517 to life with a goal at the 9:02 mark of the second period. Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff kept the B-Sens off the scoresheet through two periods, putting them on the brink of elimination.
Binghamton, however, wouldn't be denied, rallying in the third period for the second straight time in this series at Verizon Wireless Arena. In Game 2, the B-Sens wiped out a 2-0 deficit in the final 20 minutes en route to a 4-3 overtime victory. This time, it was Bobby Butler
bringing Binghamton back, notching his third goal of the series at the 10:26 mark of the third.
The Monarchs finished with a 52-44 advantage in shots on goal.Erik Condra
and Jim O'Brien
both recorded a pair of assists for the B-Sens.
The winner of this series advances to the Atlantic Division final against either the Portland Pirates or the Connecticut Whale. The Pirates lead their series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Saturday night in Hartford, Conn.