The Rochester Americans fell to the Binghamton Senators by a score of 2-1 on Saturday night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena as the teams played the front-end of a home-and-home series. Rochester out-shot Binghamton by a 39-33 margin, but Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond made 38 saves to hand the Amerks their first regulation loss in the last five games.
Johan Larsson scored the lone goal for the Amerks, who moved to 30-21-6-4 on the season with the loss. Kevin Porter and Mike Zigomanis each tallied an assist while goaltender Nathan Lieuwen continued his solid play by stopping 31 of 33 shots on goal. Newly-signed defenseman Luka Vidmar made his Amerks and AHL debut in the game.
Cole Schneider recorded a goal and an assist for Binghamton while Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored a goal to give Hammond the offensive support needed to record his 19th win of the season.
Both goaltenders came out of the gate strong on Saturday, as the teams were held scoreless while Lieuwen and Hammond combined for 23 saves in the opening period. The teams traded power play chances through much of the frame, but neither side was able to cash in.
Binghamton snapped the scoreless tie at the 4:07 mark of the second period with a tic-tac-toe passing play to net a power play goal. Stephane Da Costa, who was working the left half-wall on the man-advantage, walked the puck in toward the Amerk net, and when he reached the face-off dot, sent a pass down to Mark Stone, who was stationed below the goal line just off the left post. Stone quickly one-touched a pass out to the slot for Schneider, who snapped a one-timer past Lieuwen to give the Senators a 1-0 lead.
Larsson came close to evening the score late in the second when he found a loose puck in the high slot and took a shot on goal, but Hammond somehow saw the shot through traffic and managed to kick out his right pad at the last second to deny Larsson the equalizer.
The Senators doubled their lead at the 7:20 mark of the third period when Pageau notched his 14th goal of the season. Pageau and Schneider attacked the Rochester zone 2-on-2, and when Pageau reached the left face-off circle, he slowed down and looked to pass, but then elected to shoot and was able to put the puck into the far lower corner of the net to give Binghamton a 2-0 lead.
Larsson, who had several quality scoring chances throughout the game, eventually got one past Hammond at the 13:10 mark of the third period for his 15th of the season. After Larsson created a turnover in the offensive end, Zigomanis kept the puck in at the blue-line and got it to Porter, who then set up Larsson for a shot from the left circle. Larsson had time to load up on a wrist shot, and Hammond got a piece of it, but the puck bounced up and over his right shoulder and into the net, cutting the Senators’ lead in half. With an assist on the goal, Zigomanis extended his point streak to four games.
Rochester mounted plenty of pressure during the final minutes of the third period, but was unable to solve Hammond again and the Senators held on for a 2-1 victory.
The Amerks and B-Sens will square off for the second straight night on Sunday, March 16 as the action shifts back to Rochester, where the clubs will make-up this week’s postponed game that was originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 12 at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is set for 5:05 p.m. Tickets for Wednesday’s originally scheduled game will be valid for Sunday’s make-up date or can be redeemed for any remaining regular season home game.