PORTLAND – Ryan Potulny entered the second round of the AHL playoffs as the league’s leading scorer. He left the Cumberland County Civic Center on Wednesday night still perched atop the league’s leaders.

With a pair of assists in a 3-2 win over the Portland Pirates — the only AHL playoff game Wednesday night — Potulny, a center for the Binghamton Senators, leads all AHL scorers with eight goals and eight assists in eight playoff games.

His tear matches the Senators’ tear. In their eight playoff games, the Senators have played in seven one-goal games and five overtime games.

“We haven’t made it easy on ourselves, that’s for sure,” said Potulny, who was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 2006 at the University of Minnesota. “We’ve been battling every game and it’s been tight.

“I think we can take from some of the games in the first round, where it was tight at the end there, and build off that and learn from that. At the end of the game you have to get pucks deep and make sure you get pucks out and play a simple, smart game.”

Yet in those eight games, they’ve also solidified their place as one of the AHL’s high-octane offenses. Binghamton entered the Atlantic Division finals against Portland averaging 38.7 shots a game in their first seven playoff games, and they outshot the Pirates 43-35 Wednesday night.

The Senators’ freewheeling style of play ultimately hampered the Pirates.

“They’re a team that likes to play run and gun,” Pirates center Colin Stuart said. “That’s not our game. It’s not run and gun. It’s sound defensively and a sound transition game that leads to offense.

“I think we got to chasing it around a little bit and I think that was evident in our (defensive) zone, letting guys get by us. We’ve got to tighten up in all those areas to be successful.”

Potulny assisted on Ryan Keller’s goal at 6:28 of the second period, then assisted on Zack Smith’s eventual winner at 7:35 of the third, a shot that banked off a Pirates defenseman and into the goal.

“One of the reasons why our offense is good is that we don’t do it with just one man,” Potulny said. “We use each other, we let the puck do the work and move the puck. It’s not a one-guy show. Everyone kind of chips in and helps out.”

Potulny had 18 goals and 23 assists this season with Rockford before being traded to Ottawa by Chicago in February for defenseman Chris Campoli. In 13 regular-season games with the AHL’s Senators, Potulny had three goals and five assists.

Potulny’s goal at 2:58 of the fifth overtime on April 25, 2008, gave the Philadelphia Phantoms a 3-2 win over the Albany River Rats, the longest game in AHL history.

Potulny insists there isn’t a secret to his playoff success.

“Just keeping it simple and not trying to do too much,” Potulny said.

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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