HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tonight’s contest is the fifth game of the East Division Semifinals between Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The series is tied at 2-2 with the home team winning each game. The winner of the series will advance to play either Norfolk or Philadelphia in the East Division Finals.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Binghamton 7-1-0-0
After a 2-0 setback on Halloween the Senators won seven straight against the Penguins to finish the season series. In the first game MARC-ANDRE FLEURY stopped all 28 Binghamton shots and RAMZI ABID scored the game winner while Sens goalie RAY EMERY made 23 saves on 24 shots. Binghamton then won three of the next four in overtime with ANTOINE VERMETTE scoring the game winner on Nov. 19th and DENIS HAMEL scoring a sudden-death goal the next night on the road. The teams did not meet again until Jan. 7th when Binghamton scored three power-play goals on their way to a 5-1 win. One week later the Sens overcame a two-goal night from RAMZ ABID, including an extra attacker goal with two seconds left, to win on JESSE FIBIGER’S overtime goal. Binghamton capped four games in five nights with a 6-2 win in Wilkes-Barre on March 13th. ANTOINE VERMETTE had a goal and two assists in that game. The teams finished the regular season series three weeks ago with Binghamton winning 3-1 on April 6th behind a pair of second period short-handed goals and posted a 5-2 victory on April 9th thanks to a four-point night from JASON SPEZZA (2 goals, 2 assists).
SPEZZA led all scorers in the series with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in eight games. RAMZI ABID led the Penguins with 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in eight games. Sens goalie RAY EMERY played in six games with a record of 5-1-0 and a goals-against average of 1.82. MARC-ANDRE FLEURY was in goal for five games with a record of 1-3-0 and a goals-against average of 3.00. The Binghamton power play was effective converting on 8 of 40 chances (20.0%) while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored on 4 of 38 opportunities (10.5%). Five of Binghamton’s league-leading 24 short-handed goals came against the Penguins.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Binghamton opened up a 2-0 series lead by winning the first two games on home ice last weekend. In the first game Binghamton scored only 2:03 into regulation when Sens’ winger JOSH LANGFELD, one of four B-Sens with 30 or more goals in the regular season, put the puck past Penguins’ goaltender MARC-ANDRE FLEURY. Binghamton went on to score two power-play goals in the game and led 5-1 after CHARLIE STEPHENS scored at 12:46 of the third period. RAY EMERY blocked 33 of 35 shots for the win.
The Senators once again opened an early lead when STEPHENS scored at 1:44 of the opening period. But this game would enter the third period tied at 1-1 before CHRIS NEIL tallied his first playoff goal only 49 seconds into the final session. STEPHENS added his second goal of the game and third of the playoffs less than four minutes later and rookie BRANDON BOCHENSKI scored his first playoff goal at 12:46 of the third to finish Binghamton’s scoring. JASON SPEZZA tallied one assist to extend his scoring streak to 22 games dating back to the regular season.
The Penguins earned their first win of the 2004-05 playoffs on Monday night when COLBY ARMSTRONG scored at 12:26 of the third overtime. At 112 minutes and 26 seconds the game was the ninth longest in American Hockey League history and the longest in both Senators and Penguins history. All four regulation goals were scored on the power play with Sens’ defenseman CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT scoring both tallies for Binghamton. Also scoring for the Penguins were forwards KRIS BEECH and SHANE ENDICOTT. ANDY CHIODO started his second consecutive game for the Penguins and stopped 42 of 44 shots for second star honors. RAY EMERY blocked 46 of 49 shots while lowering his goals-against average for the series to 1.81.
On Wednesday night the Penguins evened the series as ANDY CHIODO made 23 stops in net to earn his fourth career Calder Cup Playoff shutout. COLDBY ARMSTRONG and MATT MURLEY each scored their second goal of the series while RAY EMERY stopped 20 of 22 shots in the loss. EMERY has now started all 20 Binghamton Senators playoff games in the last three seasons.
The Sens are playing in their third Game 5 since joining the AHL prior to the 2002-03 season. Their 1-1 record includes a 3-0 win against Bridgeport and a 3-8 loss at Hamilton during the Sens run to the Conference Finals in 2003. The Bridgeport series in 2003 is the only other time Binghamton has been tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven series. After winning both home games against the Sound Tigers, the Senators lost two on the road. But Binghamton bounced back and won the fifth game 3-0 at home before going on the road and winning 2-1. Tonight the Senators will look to break a franchise playoff record scoreless streak of 137:15. Binghamton’s last goal came from the stick of defenseman CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT at 15:11 of second period.
Several Senators earned individual honors for their efforts during the 2004-05 regular season. SPEZZA won the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s most valuable player and the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the top scorer. SPEZZA is the first Binghamton player to win both of the awards since Binghamton Ranger DON BIGGS in 1993. Rookie scoring leader BRANDON BOCHENSKI was named to the All-Rookie Team while SPEZZA was named an AHL First Team All Star and defenseman BRIAN POTHIER was selected as a Second Team All Star.
B-SENS STREAKS: No active scoring streaks. The Sens have allowed a power-play goal in three straight games killing 11 of 15 (73.3%) penalties during the stretch.
B-SENS TRANSACTIONS: Binghamton signed defenseman TREVOR JOHNSON to a 25-game professional try-out contract on April 19th.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS: The Penguins have won two straight games to even the best-of-seven series. After starting MARC-ANDRE FLEURY in the first game of the series the Penguins have turned to ANDY CHIODO who has won two straight since losing 4-2 at Binghamton last Saturday. CHIODO only played in 14 regular season contests for the Penguins with a record of 5-7-1 and a goals-against average of 3.27. In the playoffs he has improved his goals-against average to 1.56 while upping his save percentage from .879 in the regular season to .937.
In a series where the home team has won each game the Penguins will attempt to break a four-game road losing streak in the playoffs dating back to last season’s Calder Cup Finals. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has been outscored 19 to 9 in their last four road playoff games.
PENGUINS STREAKS: Forward KRIS BEECH has scored in three consecutive games (2g, 2a). Winger COLBY ARMSTRONG has a goal in two straight contests (2g) while forward SHANE ENDICOTT also has points in two straight (1g, 1a). Goaltender ANDY CHIODO has won two straight games.