Rochester rallies to defeat Binghamton in a shootout

From the Democrat and Chronicle
Kevin Oklobzija • Staff writer • March 31, 2008

While Derek Smith and the Binghamton Senators celebrated his short-handed goal midway through the second period, a very loud clatter could be heard coming from the runway behind the Rochester Americans bench.

Having been among the five Amerks on the ice when Smith gave the Senators a 3-1 lead, Clarke MacArthur decided it was time his hockey stick become something other than a hockey stick.

“I got rid of the curse,” he said.

Equipped with a new stick, MacArthur showed that he still could put the puck in the net by scoring the winning shootout goal as the out-of-gas Amerks made an improbable rally and won 4-3.

MacArthur tucked the puck between the legs of goalie Brian Elliott on the eighth Rochester shootout attempt — the third sudden-death round — and the Amerks won their third game in three nights.

Stefan Meyer’s power-play goal with just 9.6 seconds remaining forced overtime, and he said he didn’t really need his stick to score it.

“I thought I was back home on the farm: I put a pitchfork in my hands and was pitch-forking that sucker into the net,” Meyer said.

Taking a pass at the right of the crease, Meyer fired a shot, then went bashing for the rebound.

After losing the first seven games of the season series with the Senators, the Amerks finally won.

“If you’re OK with losing to a team that many times, there’s something wrong with you,” Amerks goalie Adam Dennis said.

When the game was extended to a shootout, Dennis and Elliott took center stage. Dennis allowed a goal to Josh Hennessy on Binghamton’s second shot, then made six stops in a row.

“We got unbelievable goaltending,” MacArthur said.

At the other end of Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial, Marc-Andre Gragnani beat Elliott on the Amerks’ fourth shot with a backhander between the legs.

Having missed the net high to the glove side on his first try (and the Amerks’ fifth shot), MacArthur decided Gragnani had the right idea.

“Grags beat him five-hole,” MacArthur said, “so I tried to open him up and slide it through.”

The move — not to mention the new stick — couldn’t have worked any better.

The Amerks, meanwhile, couldn’t have worked any harder in the third period to finally tie the score.

They were playing their fourth game in five nights and third in three nights. That included a bus trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., to play Saturday night.

Their sleeper bus arrived in Grand Rapids about 9 a.m. Saturday. They were back in Rochester about 9 a.m. Sunday.

“You’re rolling around like a log on the bus,” MacArthur said. “I can’t believe we played a game after getting in at 9 two mornings in a row.”

Or that they won both games. The goalies deserve the credit.

Dennis prevented Binghamton from blowing out the Amerks with a dozen big saves in regulation. He faced five outnumbered rushes when the Senators were short-handed but allowed just the one goal. He made 33 saves.

On Saturday, Tyler Plante made 47 saves in a 5-2 win over the Griffins.

“Our parent clubs should be pretty happy with their two goalies,” Meyer said. “They’re the most positive guys on this team. It all starts with goaltending.”

The Florida Panthers also should think highly of Meyer. He’s the Amerks’ leading goal-scorer with 20 in 66 games, and Sunday’s end-of-game thriller was one of his biggest.

“Those are goals I want to score,” Meyer said. “I want to be depended on. I expect to do that for my team.”

The Amerks (23-40-6-4) have won three in a row for the first time since November.

“When you win, it always gives you that extra energy to try to win the next game,” Gragnani said.

KEVINO@DemocratandChronicle.com