Matt Puempel scored the eventual game-winning goal with just 1.4 seconds remaining in the second period as the Binghamton Senators defeated the Rochester Americans 3-1 Wednesday night at The Blue Cross Arena. The loss is the second consecutive for the Amerks, and drops their record to 14-13-3-3.
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Phil Varone scored his seventh goal of the season for the Amerks, with Luke Adam and Matt MacKenzie notching the assists. Matt Hackett stopped 31 shots in the loss.
Buddy Robinson and Andre Petersson also scored for Binghamton, and Rochester native Shane Prince added an assist. Andrew Hammond made 16 saves in net for his ninth win of the season for the Senators.
Hackett was sharp early on to keep the Senators off the board. With the Amerks killing a penalty just 2:47 into the game, Binghamton made a quick passing play in front of the Rochester net, but Hackett denied the opportunity. The rebound bounced right to a Senator forward, but Hackett was able to deflect the puck out of harm’s way despite sitting on his back-side.
The goaltender had to be at his best again when Binghamton’s leading scorer Mike Hoffman was sent in all alone on a breakaway. Hoffman attempted to slip the puck between Hackett’s wickets, but the right pad of Hackett stuffed him.
Minutes later with the Amerks on the penalty kill, Varone won a race to the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on a short-handed breakaway. Varone deked to his backhand and tried a low shot, but Hammond shut the door.
The Amerks nearly took a 1-0 lead just a minute into the second period, when Tim Schaller broke in down the left wing and fired a high shot that rang off the cross-bar. Rochester, however, would break the scoreless tie 3:12 into the middle frame on Varone’s goal. Varone received a pass in his own zone and cut to the middle after crossing the Senators’ blueline. After faking a drop pass to Joel Armia and fooling the Binghamton defense, Varone was left alone and snapped the puck underneath Hammond’s glove for his seventh of the season.
The Senators tied the score 1-1 with 5:55 left in the second period on a goal from Robinson after he picked up a loose puck in front of the net and beat Hackett. Binghamton would take a 2-1 lead on a goal by Puempel with 1.4 seconds left in the middle frame, when the forward received a stretch pass and took a long-range shot that eluded Hackett.
With just over eight minutes remaining in regulation, Hackett kept the Amerks hopes alive as he denied Binghamton’s Cole Schneider on a breakaway try. However, Nick Crawford was penalized for slashing on the play, and Hackett came up big again on the penalty kill, denying a couple of point-blank chances from Stephane Da Costa.
The Amerks caught a tough break with just under two minutes remaining in regulation, when Petersson’s attempted pass caromed off the skates of a pair of Amerks defensemen and into the net for a 3-1 Binghamton advantage. Rochester called a time-out with 44 seconds remaining and pulled Hackett for the extra attacker, but the Amerks couldn’t muster any more offense.
The Amerks remain at home on Friday, Jan. 10 as they host the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first leg of a home-and-home series at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be broadcast live on Sports 1280 WHTK.