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Potulny's OT winner caps stunning rally by B-Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Ryan Potulny's eighth goal of the series, at 3:07 of overtime, allowed the Binghamton Senators to edge the Manchester Monarchs 6-5 in Game 7 of their Atlantic Division semifinal series. (Photo by Scott Slingsby/inGoal Magazine).

History was made by the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night.

Taking a page out of the popular Stanley Cup series of memories, the B-Sens scored a victory for the ages at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., rallying for a 6-5 overtime triumph over the Monarchs in the deciding game of their exhilarating Calder Cup playoff series.

Binghamton now advances to the Atlantic Division final against the Portland Pirates, who eliminated the Connecticut Whale with a 6-4 victory in Hartford, Conn. The Pirates, who topped the division during the regular season, took the series in six games.

Ryan Potulny notched the game-winner just 3:07 into the extra period, capping a five-point night that included assists on four earlier Binghamton goals. Potulny, a trade deadline acquistion by the parent Ottawa Senators from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Chris Campoli deal, is the current Calder Cup playoff leader in goals (eight) and assists (six).

After falling behind 3-1 in the Atlantic semifinal, Binghamton ran off three straight wins — all of them in overtime — to finally subdue the Monarchs. It's the first time in the American Hockey League's 75-year history that Games 5, 6 and 7 in a playoff series were decided in overtime. All four B-Sens wins came in OT, only the second time that's ever happened in the league (the 2008 Syracuse Crunch did it in the first round against the Manitoba Moose).

Potulny's goal capped a wild Game 7 in which the B-Sens raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second period, only to see the Monarchs tie it before the frame ended, then surge ahead midway through the third. Erik Condra's second goal of the night with 1:45 left in regulation sent the game to overtime for the fifth time in the series, which saw six of seven contests decided by a single goal.

This one certainly didn't start out that way. Binghamton captain Ryan Keller notched a pair of first-period goals, then Condra made it 3-0 with a shorthanded tally — his first goal of the series — just 56 seconds into the middle period, chasing Martin Jones from the Manchester net in favour of Jeff Zatkoff.

A power-play goal by Bud Holloway got the Monarchs on the board at the 5:11 mark of the second, but Bobby Butler netted his four goal of the series a mere 54 seconds later to restore the B-Sens' three-goal margin. But it wasn't going to come that easily for Binghamton — it never has during this wild ride of a season down on the farm.

Jake Muzzin got the Monarchs back into it 11:53 into the second. Then, in the dying minutes of the period, Brandon Kozun and John Zeiler shocked the B-Sens with goals 33 seconds apart. Suddenly, it was all square at 4-4 heading into the game's final 20 minutes.

Manchester grabbed its first and only lead of the night 10:19 into the third period, when Dwight King found the back of the net behind B-Sens goaltender Robin Lehner on the power play. It appeared the goal might stand up as the series decider until Condra's late heroics set the stage for Potulny.

The B-Sens finished with a 39-37 edge in shots on goal.

Around the boards

Keller, Colin Greening and Game 6 overtime hero Geoff Kinrade all had two assists for the B-Sens ... Keller (3-7-10) currently ranks in a tie for third in AHL playoff scoring ... More history: Binghamton became the 16th AHL team to come back from a 3-1 series deficit and just  the sixth to take Games 6 and 7 of a series on the road ... The Atlantic Division final will open Wednesday in Portland, Maine, with the Pirates also playing host to Game 2 on Thursday. Then the series shifts to Binghamton's Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena for Game 3 on Saturday. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, are set for May 2 and 3 in Binghamton. Games 6 and 7, if needed, would be played May 6 and 7 back in Portland ... The B-Sens announced tickets for their first two home games will go on sale Monday. 

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