BINGHAMTON 3, HOUSTON 0
Playing like a team desperate to avoid a 3-1 series deficit, Binghamton struck for a pair of first-period goals and rode that momentum to a 3-0 win over visiting Houston on Friday at the Broome County Arena, knotting up the 2011 Calder Cup Finals at two games apiece.
The pivotal Game 5 is set for Saturday night in Binghamton, and the series is now guaranteed to return to Houston for Game 6 on Tuesday.
Cody Bass and AHL regular-season MVP Corey Locke netted first-period goals for the Senators, who held an 18-8 shots advantage in the opening 20 minutes after totaling 29 shots during their 2-1 loss in Game 3 of the series on Wednesday.
Bass snapped a six-game points drought with his second goal of the postseason and first since scoring in Game 5 of Binghamton’s opening-round series against Manchester on Apr. 20.
Locke, who added an assist on the night, has now produced 13 points (2-11-13) in 14 games since returning to the B-Sens’ lineup from injury after missing the entire first round.
Binghamton defenseman Derek Smith provided additional insurance 2:19 into the third period with his first career playoff goal. Smith, who registered 54 points (10-44-54) in 71 regular-season contests for the Senators, has been limited to just four playoff appearances thus far due to injury.
The Senators prevailed despite another scoreless outing from Ryan Potulny, who still leads the AHL with 25 points (14-11-25) in 21 games this postseason.
Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner only had to make 21 saves to pick up his league-leading third shutout of the playoffs, and the 19-year-old improved to 12-4 (2.12, .938) in 17 appearances this spring.
Binghamton is now an impressive 6-1 following a loss this postseason and moved back to .500 on home ice at 5-5.
The Aeros suffered their first shutout of the playoffs and were blanked for the first time since a 3-0 loss at the Texas Stars on Mar. 22.
2011 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Fri., May 27 – HOUSTON 3, Binghamton 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 28 – Binghamton 2, HOUSTON 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Wed., June 1 – Houston 2, BINGHAMTON 1
Game 4 – Fri., June 3 – BINGHAMTON 3, Houston 0
Game 5 – Sat., June 4 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 6 – Tue., June 7 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05
*Game 7 – Thu., June 9 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05