The Binghamton Senators scored three goals in the first period and never looked back on their way to a 5-0 shutout win over the Rochester Americans in the final tune-up contest between the two teams Saturday at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The North Division rivals earned a split of the preseason home-and-home series after the Amerks took the opening matchup by a 4-3 score Thursday in Buffalo.
Veteran forward Mike Blunden and rookie defenseman Francis Perron each scored twice in the win for Binghamton while Macoy Erkamps rounded out the scoring with his first of the preseason. Former Amerk defenseman Mike Kostka recorded a game-high three assists and Erkamps also added an assist for a two-point night. Third-year netminder Chris Driedger stopped all 26 shots he faced to pick up the shutout for the Senators.
Linus Ullmark, reassigned to Rochester from the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the day, stopped 12 of 17 shots he faced before being replaced by John Muse to start the third period. The veteran goaltender was perfect in stopping all seven shots he faced in 20 minutes of relief effort.
Tonight’s game in Binghamton was one of retribution for the Senators, who after allowing three first-period goals to the Amerks on Thursday, assembled a 3-0 lead of their own through 15:50 of the first period on Saturday.
Binghamton grabbed the early 1-0 lead just 1:53 into the contest off a redirection from Erkamps in the low slot. After the Senators were able to gain the offensive zone, Andreas Englund sent a cross-ice pass down the blueline to Kyle Flanagan, who was able to get the shot off despite feeling pressure from Rochester’s Daniel Muzito-Bagenda. Flanagan’s shot made its way toward the slot, where Erkamps, having just left his post at the blueline, steered it past Ullmark for the game’s first goal less than two minutes in.
The Senators quickly made it a 3-0 game on the strength of back-to-back goals by Blunden. His first came at 6:24 when the former Syracuse Crunch forward deflected an offering from Guillaume Lepine under the crossbar at the top of the crease. Blunden then added his second of the night on the power-play at 15:50 off a back-door feed from Nick Paul during a 5-on-3 advantage for Binghamton.
Binghamton widened the gap with two more power-play tallies from Perron just 2:27 apart late in the second period. Perron, who last season led the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to the QMJHL championship and was named playoff MVP, beat Ullmark at 15:04 with a blast from just inside the blueline before connecting on a one-timer minutes later that found the upper left corner. Both goals by Perron were assisted by Kostka.
The Amerks open their 61st American Hockey League season – and 35th as the primary affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres – at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 against the Hershey Bears. The Opening Night matchup will mark the 451st all-time meeting between the AHL’s two oldest teams. The last time Rochester and Hershey met in a season-opening matchup was in 2010-11 as part of the AHL’s 75th-anniversary celebration.
BNG: Erkamps, Blunden (2), Perron (2)
RCH: Ullmark – 12/17 (L) / Muse – 7/7
BNG: Driedger – 26/26 (W)
RCH: PP (0/4) / PK (3/6)
BNG: PP (3/6) / PK (4/4)