Special to Maine Hockey Journal
by Tom Robinson
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Turnovers and penalties got the Portland Pirates into a hole they could not escape Monday night.
Sloppy play in their own zone caused the Pirates to face a series of strong early scoring chances and the Binghamton Senators used three power-play goals to roll to a 6-1 victory in Game Four of their Calder Cup second-round playoff series.
The win gives the Senators a 3-1 series lead and a chance to advance with a victory in Tuesday’s 7:05 game at the Broome County Arena.
“Execution was an issue,” Pirates coach Kevin Dineen said. “It’s something we have to correct and have a higher level of puck management.”
The loss left the Atlantic Division champions within one game of elimination, but Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst said he expects to see an inspired Pirates team Tuesday.
“We’re up against a wounded animal,” Kleinendorst said after his team racked up a 30-13 shot advantage and a 5-1 lead in the first two periods of Monday’s game. “This is not going to be easy.”
The other Eastern Conference series – where Charlotte took a 2-1 lead on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with Monday’s 2-1 overtime victory – is guaranteed of lasting until at least Friday and could go as long as May 9. The Senators would earn themselves a rest with an early clinching.
“Portland is a beautiful city,” Kleinendorst said. “I’ve spent a lot of time there.
“If we didn’t have to go back to Portland, I’d much prefer to hang around here.”
Binghamton’s combination of four productive scorers made that a possibility with their effort Monday.
Kaspars Daugavins had two goals and an a
ssist, Ryan Potulny had two goals, Corey Locke had three assists and Ryan Keller had a goal and an assist.
Potulny and Keller rank 1-2 in Calder Cup scoring after Locke led the American Hockey League in regular-season scoring. Daugavins has a series-high five goals.
“They’ve got good options out there,” Dineen said.
The Senators also were effective defensively and in goal.
“We’re good defensively,” Kleinendorst said. “It’s a strength of ours that is much better than a lot of people give us credit for.”
Robin Lehner, who made 22 saves, is 6-1 in the last seven games after serving as back-up for Binghamton’s first four postseason games.
Luke Adam was the only Pirate to beat Lehner Monday night. First, he had to beat three Binghamton players to complete a near length-of-the-ice rush.
After starting in his own left faceoff circle, Adam weaved through center ice and crossed the blue line on what looked like a harmless 2-on-4 until he maneuvered around Erik Condra, Mark Borowiecki and Daugavins to move in alone on Lehner.
The Senators regained the lead 10 seconds later by scoring off the ensuing faceoff when Daugavins raced up the right side and got behind the Pirates defense.
“It was a set play for us,” Daugavins said. “(Patrick Wiercioch) passed to our wing Condra, who chipped a pass and I won the race.”
In the process, he promptly re-established the control Binghamton had shown in the first eight minutes.
“For us to come right back and score after they tied it up, that was probably the turning point of the game,” Kleinendorst said.
Keller made it 3-1 with a power-play goal later in the period and the Senators finished 3-for-6 with the man advantage.