|Kaspars Daugavins and the Binghamton Senators know how big a difference the result of tonight's Game 4 can make in their Atlantic Division final against the Portland Pirates (Just Sports Photography).
The Binghamton Senators don't need to be reminded about how close they were to dropping the hammer on the Portland Pirates.
But the B-Sens let it slip away in the dying seconds on Saturday night, dropping a 3-2 decision at a raucous Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena — a result that changed the complexion of the American Hockey League Atlantic Division final between the teams. And a verdict they've had to hear all about for the last 48 hours or so.
Tonight, Binghamton gets one more chance to gain a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series, which it currently leads 2-1. There's no underestimating the difference the outcome of Game 4 at the Broome County arena (7:05 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com) can make in the grand scheme of things.
"We're up 2-1," B-Sens forward Kaspars Daugavins
told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
after Saturday's heartbreaking loss. "You win one game, it's 3-1. You lose one (more) game, it's back to square one. Next game will be big."
With Game 5 also slated to be played in Binghamton, N.Y., on Tuesday night, the B-Sens have a chance to close out the Pirates on home ice. But nobody on the Binghamton side is looking past this evening's matchup.
"We're up 2-1. We still have the next two games here," said Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst. "We'll just worry about the next one, then go from there. That's a very good team (we're facing), and it's going to take a 60-minute effort to get it done."
The B-Sens also have to quickly erase the sting of Saturday night, when Tim Conboy's goal with 12.5 seconds left gave the Pirates a potentially season-saving victory. But this is a team that long along learned to handle adversity.
"We've had our mettle tested all year long," said Kleinendorst. "But I'm sure they have, too. You don't finish in first place in your division if you're not a good team. You don't finish in first place if you're not capable of coming back (when you're) down by a goal in the third period.
"That's just the way it is. You don't win championships if you're not able to absorb nights like (Saturday). We'll have to find a way to bounce back, but that's all part of the process."
What's also true is that Binghamton still maintains control of the series, thanks to taking the first two games of the series at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Maine.
"We've got to put it in perspective," Keller told reporters after Saturday's loss. "We're still in the driver's seat and we're in control of our own destiny. It was the same way in the first series (against Manchester). We were down three games to one and we tried not to get too low. When we were up 2-0, we tried not to get too high. We keep an even keel and we'll bounce back."Around the boardsRobin Lehner
(5-1-0) makes his seventh straight playoff start in goal for the B-Sens tonight, with Barry Brust healthy enough again to dress as the backup ... The game-winner by Conboy on Saturday was the first goal in 171 AHL and National Hockey League games for the Portland blueliner, who last found the back on the net on an empty netter while playing for the Albany River Rats on Jan. 17, 2009 ... The B-Sens' Ryan Potulny continues to lead all playoff scorers (8-9-17), while Zack Smith
has points in three straight games (2-3-5) ... With six goals, Binghamton forward Bobby Butler
ranks in a tie for second in that category during the post-season ... Fifteen players have scored goals for the Pirates so far in the playoffs, the most of any team still left in the Calder Cup hunt ... Home teams are currently 1-4-0 in the AHL's two Eastern Division finals, but they're 3-1-0 in the West ... Games 6 and 7, if necessary, are set for Friday and Saturday (both 7 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com) in Portland.