The Binghamton Senators secured their fifth win in a row Saturday night, skating away with a 3-1 victory over the Hershey Bears at Giant Center.
Mike Hoffman scored the game-winner at 12:08 of the third and Mark Stone added an empty-net, power-play goal inside the final minute.
Leading scorer Jakob Silfverberg had a two assist night and now has 28 points on the season.
Ben Bishop stopped 20-of-21 shots in net for Binghamton, while Braden Holtby came up with 33 saves on 35 shots for Hershey.
The two netminders played a scoreless first period, with Binghamton holding a 10-6 lead in shots. Derek Grant had a great scoring chance just 25 seconds in and Hoffman came close in the last half-minute of the period but was denied by Holtby.
Binghamton played much better, keeping the puck in the offensive zone more than they did against Wilkes-Barre on Friday. As a matter of fact, the 10 shots in the period matched the B-Sens total through two periods against the Penguins.
Each team was 0-for-1 on the power-play in the first 20 minutes.
Hershey broke the scoreless tie 5:17 into the second period when Patrick McNeill rifled a puck off the boards, that took a favorable Hershey bounce and hit Binghamton’s Eric Gryba in the leg and found the back of an open net. Former Binghamton star Ryan Potulny was eventually given credit for the goal, with McNeill and Jeff Taffe earning the assists.
The game stayed that way until Jakob Silfverberg stole the puck in the Hershey zone and baited Holtby out of the net, only to pass it off to Stephane Da Costa who shot the puck into a wide open cage, with Holtby lying flat on the ice.
The goal came with 2:16 left in the second and was assisted by Silfverberg and David Dziurzynski. For Da Costa, it was his fifth of the season.
Hershey got the only power-play in the period, but came up empty. Binghamton held a 24-16 lead in shots after 40 minutes.
As has been the case in recent games, the Binghamton offense came alive in the third period. They got 12 shots on goal and scored twice.
Hoffman gave Binghamton their first and last lead of the night when he picked up a big rebound off a Da Costa shot that again drew Holtby out of his net. Although the Hershey netminder stayed on his feet, he was out far enough that Hoffman was shooting at an open cage. That goal came with 7:52 to go in the game and made it 2-1. Da Costa and Silfverberg assisted. It was 2-1 at that point.
The B-Sens looked poised to build on the lead when Hershey’s Steve Olesky picked up a double-minor for high-sticking with 4:51 to go. Binghamton had a couple good chances early in the sequence, including a shot that Holtby made a big pad save on, as he was going down to the ice, he kicked his leg up in the air and got enough of the puck to send it skyward and out of harm’s way.
The man-advantage was short circuited when Patrick Wiercioch was called for delay of game. There was 14 seconds left on the Olesky call when Wiercioch stepped out of the box. Just before he did, with 1:06 to go in the game, Holtby went to the bench.
That set up a power-play with an empty net and it didn’t take Mark Stone long to capitalize. He sent the puck down ice with just enough steam to get across the line and with 53.3 seconds left, it was a 3-1 game.
For Stone, it was his second empty-netter in less than a week. He also did it at home on New Year’s Eve in a game against the St. John’s IceCaps.
For more info: Binghamton @ Hershey game report
Game notes: Wiercioch took a puck to the ear as he went off for a line change, near the end of the second period. He is a tough customer, as we all remember and returned to the game in the third period.
With the victory, Binghamton moves to 21-7-1-2 on the season and remains four points behind the East Division leading Syracuse Crunch, who beat Norfolk 4-3 in OT on Saturday.
The B-Sens will look to extend their win streak to six games, when they travel to Albany tomorrow to take on former teammate Bobby Butler and the rest of the Devils in a 4:00 p.m. tilt.