PORTLAND – A controversial goal was the difference maker in the Binghamton Senators’ 5-3 victory against the Portland Pirates in their AHL playoff game Thursday night.
The controversy came when defenseman Bob Raymond scored on a rising shot from just inside the blue line with less than four minutes left to snap a 3-3 tie and help the Senators to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Atlantic Division finals.
Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen claimed Raymond, who joined Binghamton earlier this week after spending the entire season in the ECHL playing for the Florida Everblades, was offsides before taking his go-ahead shot.
“You know what, that may have cost us the game right there,” Dineen said.
“You know what, we expect a level of professionalism out of (game officials). I know they’re amateur guys — they all have their own jobs — but that was a dishonest call. You look at it on video and it is ugly, it’s so offsides.”
From where Binghamton Coach Kurt Kleinendorst stood, Raymond’s shot looked legal.
“It wasn’t offsides, not from what I could tell,” Kleinendorst said. “I looked and looked and looked and it wasn’t offsides from what I saw. I think it was the right call.
“Any way you look at it, it’s a tough call to make, but my opinion is it was the right call.”
The series now shifts to Binghamton, N.Y., where the teams will play Games 3, 4 and possibly game 5 over the next five days.
“We’ve put ourselves in a big hole, and it doesn’t help we have to go play the next three games in their arena,” said Portland forward Mark Mancari, who scored two goals.
At times in Thursday night’s game, played before 1,831 at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates thoroughly outplayed the Senators. Portland held a 46-26 edge in shots on goal.
“We had more (scoring) opportunities, (but) they capitalized on more opportunities than we did,” Mancari said. “That happens in hockey, but we can’t let it happen if we want to keep going.”
As in Game 1, the Pirates scored first.
Derek Whitmore put in his third goal of the playoffs 13 minutes into the game when he got his stick on a rebound and lifted the puck over goalie Robin Lehner, who made his fifth consecutive start for the Senators.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Mancari made it 2-0 when he finished off a three-on-two break with a quick shot from the right circle for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The Pirates appeared to be in control, holding the Senators without a shot on goal during first eight minutes of the second period, but a short-handed goal by Binghamton left wing Kaspars Daugavins quickly shifted the momentum.
Daugavins scored on a breakaway. While fending off Mancari with his left hand, he swept in front of the Portland goal and slid the puck under goalie Jhonas Enroth’s pads for his third goal of the playoffs.
Less than three minutes later, Zach Smith, who scored the decisive goal in the Senator’s 2-1 win against the Pirates Wednesday night, tied it by scoring his second playoff goal on a blast from center point.
With less than four minutes left in the second period, Binghamton moved into a 3-2 lead when former University of New Hampshire forward Bobby Butler poked in a rebound for his sixth goal of the playoffs 27 seconds into the Senators’ third power play.
The score stayed that way until Mancari finished off a rush with a blast from the top of the slot to make 3-3 with less than 10 minutes left in the third period.
After Raymond’s controversial score, Daugavins added an empty-net goal with three seconds left.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: