Binghamton Senators center Jim O’Brien scored his fifth goal in the last three games Friday night, leading his squad to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against the Albany Devils. It was his second game-winning, shorthanded goal in a week and his third straight game-winner overall.
Andre Petersson scored twice in the second period, both on the power-play and goaltender Mike McKenna made 27 of his 38 saves over the final 40 minutes, keeping Albany off the board during that span.
Another, maybe even more impressive comeback was that of defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, who played his first game since being hit in the throat by a puck back on December 9th.
“The legs were there,” said Wiercioch. “It takes a little time to adjust to the puck, the speed and positioning out there. “Once you kind of get a feel for it, every shift it kind of grows on ya. It’s almost like having a full summer off, coming back after two months, so just tried to keep it simple and keep going from there.”
Wiercioch ended up with one shot in the game and was on the ice when the Devils scored their second goal.
“By the time you finally get back on the bench you got a lot of nerves,” he added. “There’s anticipation for you to help your team out because they’ve been battling for you since you’ve been out.”
When asked how he was feeling after game one of his comeback, Wiercioch said simply, “Feels good, I think I’ll leave it at that.”
“We were very realistic coming in,” added Kleinendorst. “We didn’t expect Patty to go out and play like he didn’t miss two months. Having said that I think he did very well. To sit out and then come back in that game, against that team… in the first period, Patty must have thought, Holy smokes this league has gotten good.”
The B-Sens took a while to get the motors going, as they were outshot 13-3 in the first period and seemed to lose every race to the puck.
“By all means, it wasn’t the best game that we played,” O’Brien said. “We were just flat in the first there. Mike kept us in it, and then we showed a lot of resiliency to fight back.”
The Devils got goals from Matt Taormina and Stephane Veilleux, 28 seconds apart in that first period, launching the Devils to a 2-0 lead, 10:12 into the contest. Taormina’s goal came with five seconds left in a Mike Bartlett slashing call.
“The first period was terrible,” said Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst. “This was probably the one game this year, based on the first period that was not good, it was not pretty but after that it was an honest effort. I don’t wanna say we didn’t deserve to win, we did. This was a character win for our guys, but to come out and have the start that we had and to only be down a couple after one was probably a little bit of a blessing.”
McKenna shook off the tough start and made some big saves early in the second period. The power-play then took over, as the Devils drew two penalties back to back and Petersson made them pay.
Veilleux was called for throwing the equipment… specifically his stick at the 11:08 mark. Petersson got the puck and took a shot from the point that banged in off the crossbar, cutting the lead to 2-1, at the 12:53 mark. Then with Alexander Urbom in the box for hooking, Petersson erased the deficit 1:54 later, with a shot from almost the same spot, tying things at 2-2. Stephane Da Costa assisted on both goals.
Binghamton was outshot 18-15 in that second period, but they definitely had the momentum. The hard work paid off early in the third.
With Wacey Hamilton in the box for tripping 6:04 into the third, O’Brien stole the puck in the Albany zone, passed it to Rob Klinkhammer, who fed it back and watched as O’Brien banged it off the blocker of Frazee and in at the 7:41 mark.
“We kinda disrupted their breakout and I jumped on a puck,” said O’Brien of the eventual difference maker. “Me and Klink made a quick pass, pass and he gave it back to me, I had room and I just made a move and it went in.”
From there, McKenna was on his game, not allowing the Devils to tie things up.
“After the first period, Mike just shut the door,” said Kleinendorst. “He looked really good. Pucks weren’t just hitting him, he was seeing them. For him that’s a nice win. It’s a former team of his, former coach of his, so it was good to get it for Mike.”
“We’re doing it the right way. We’re winning these games,” McKenna said. “Hopefully that pays off for us in the long run, trying to get into playoffs here. It’s not impossible. If we keep winning close games like this, who’s to say what we can do?”
For more info: Albany @ Binghamton gamesheet
Game notes: Petersson has now recorded a point in eight straight games. He extended his home goal- scoring streak to six.
Wiercioch received the hard-hat, which rewards a deserving B-Sens player after a win. He called it “A nice gesture,” but admitted that there were probably more deserving players in the locker room.
Binghamton (19-24-1-1) plays host to Wilkes-Barre tonight at 7:05 PM.