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B-Sens in driver's seat but remain wary of Pirates

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Binghamton Senators head coach Kurt Kleinendorst knows the job is far from done, despite his team returning home from Portland with a 2-0 lead over the Pirates (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).

The Binghamton Senators don't have to be told how quickly the tide can turn in a playoff series.

After all, this is a team that seemed left for dead when it fell into a 3-1 hole against the Manchester Monarchs in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs. But three straight overtime wins later — the last two on the road — and the B-Sens found themselves in the Atlantic Division final.

With that thought in mind, don't expect Binghamton to fall victim to any sort of complacency, even as they return home from Maine with a startling 2-0 series lead against the Portland Pirates. The next three games in the division final are set for Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, beginning Saturday night (7:05 p.m., Team 1200,

While the B-Sens are clearly in position to finish off the Pirates on home ice, there are no guarantees against the Atlantic regular season champs.

"That’s a very good team over there," Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst said following Thursday night's 5-3 win at Cumberland County Civic Center. "We were down three games to one (against Manchester), which is having you back against the wall even more than 2-0. This one’s not over.

"We came into their building and won two games. They’re very capable, if we’re not sharp, of coming into our building and winning hockey games. That’s something that we’ve just got to make sure we don’t let happen ... We’ll keep things in perspective. We’ll enjoy it until our heads hit the pillow and then we’ve got to start thinking about the next one."

For a day, at least, the B-Sens do get the chance to bask in the glow of what they've done so far. Today was a day away from the ice for the team, which made the long trip home from Portland after the game and arrived back in Binghamton about the same time millions around the globe were settling in front of their TVs to watch a certain wedding ceremony of some note across the pond in England.

Twice on home ice, the Pirates seized the early lead against Binghamton. And both times, the B-Sens stormed from behind to take the win. In Wednesday's series opener, Zack Smith ended a long goal-less drought with the deciding marker in a 3-2 victory. Then in Game 2, Portland built an early 2-0 lead, only to see the B-Sens rally to win it on a late third-period goal by Bobby Raymond — a blueliner just signed to a pro tryout agreement on Monday to help a Binghamton defence corps that's been depleted by injury.

"It feels great," goaltender Robin Lehner, who stopped 43-of-46 shots he faced Thursday to raise his post-season record to 5-0-0, told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "It's a great start to this series, (up) 2-0 away against a team like this. It's pretty big. They're a really good team. It was a lot of effort from us to get these games. They were really, really good (last night) and pressured us hard."

Around the boards

Prior to this series, the Pirates had lost only eight games at home this season, all of them in the regular season. Portland went 3-0 at home in the opening round against the Connecticut Whale ... B-Sens forward Ryan Potulny (8-8-16) continues to lead all AHL playoff scorers, while captain Ryan Keller (4-8-12) sits in a tie for second with Marco Rosa of the Manitoba Moose ... Binghamton is 4-2-0 so far in these playoffs when allowing the first goal ... Games 4 and 5 of the Atlantic Division final are set for Monday and Tuesday night in Binghamton.

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