BINGHAMTON 4, MANCHESTER 3 (OT)
Binghamton rookie forward Derek Grant buried a goal at 4:03 of overtime as the Senators collected a critical 4-3 road win over Manchester on Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena, evening their Atlantic Division semifinal at a game apiece.
It marked the first career playoff goal for Grant, a fourth-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2008. The Abbotsford, B.C., native, who turns 21 years old next Wednesday, recorded six points (1-5-6) in 14 regular-season games for Binghamton after completing his college season at Michigan State University.
After a scoreless first period, Manchester got going quickly in the second with goals from Tyler Toffoli (2:16) and Justin Azevedo (9:09). Toffoli, who had notched his first professional goal in the Monarchs’ regular-season finale at Providence, scored on the power play.
The Senators came back to take the lead in the third period, though, and Ryan Potulny began the rally at 1:07 with his second goal in as many games. Regular-season team goal-scoring leader Ryan Keller (32-19-51) followed a little over four minutes later, and Kaspars Daugavins put the B-Sens on top with a power play marker at the 8:59 mark.
Monarchs defenseman Jake Muzzin forced overtime when he scored with just 1:02 left in regulation. Azevedo picked up an assist on the play to cap a three-point effort (1-2-3).
Defenseman Patrick Coulombe earned the lone helper on Grant’s game-winner, as Binghamton hated a five-game losing skid in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Sens goaltender Barry Brust, who appeared in 53 games for the Monarchs during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, earned the victory with 26 saves on 29 shots on net.
The best-of-seven series now shifts to Binghamton for the next three contests, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
NORFOLK 2, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 1
Norfolk tallied a pair of second-period goals and held on for a 2-1 road win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the opener of the teams’ East Division semifinal on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Penguins owned the AHL’s best record during the 2010-11 regular season (58-21-0-1, 117 points) but saw their postseason losing skid reach seven games, dating back to the 2009 East Division Finals against Hershey.
The teams were scoreless through 20 minutes, but Admirals forward Mattias Ritola broke the deadlock at 5:23 of the second frame. Ritola, who put up 27 points (9-18-27) in just 17 regular-season outings with Norfolk, was assisted by defenseman Troy Milam.
Ritola then helped out on a goal by Marc-Antoine Pouliot in the closing minutes of the period, giving the Admirals a 2-1 advantage heading into the third.
Rookie forward Keven Veilleux finally put the Penguins on the board with just 2:47 left in regulation, but Wilkes-Barre could not find the equalizer.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will look to even up the series when Game 2 goes on Saturday night.
HOUSTON 3, PEORIA 2 (OT)
Carson McMillan tapped home the game-winner at 11:34 of overtime to give Houston a 3-2 win over Peoria on Friday night and a 2-0 series lead in the teams’ West Division semifinal.
The series will now shift to Carver Arena in Peoria, with Game 3 set for Monday night.
Both teams enjoyed quality scoring chances in the overtime period, and the game-winning goal resulted from a 3-on-1 rush up ice by Houston. Jarod Palmer put a shot on Rivermen goaltender Jake Allen, and McMillan was in the crease to whack in the rebound for his first career AHL playoff goal.
Palmer finished with a goal and an assist for the Aeros, and Chad Rau also found the back of the net. Houston overcame a pair of one-goal deficits in regulation before prevailing in the extra session.
Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett stopped 32 of 34 shots in the winning effort, while Allen took the tough-luck loss despite making 43 saves of his own.