PORTLAND¬-The Binghamton Senators brought the Portland Pirates’ season to a screeching halt.
Center Jim O’Brien scored 25 seconds into the game as the Senators ended the Pirates’ Calder Cup playoff run with a 3-0 win before 2,713 people at the Cumberland County Civic Center Friday night.
Rookie goalie Robin Lehner made 36 saves to post his first shutout in his nine playoff starts as the Senators eliminated the Pirates with their fourth win in the best-of-seven series.
The Senators advance to the Eastern Conference finals, where they will play the winner of the Charlotte Checkers-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins series. The Checkers hold a 3-2 lead in that best-of-seven series.
“We didn’t get a lot of sustained pressure,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “That was one of our goals, and we didn’t get the puck in and keep some continuous pressure on them in their zone. They had a pretty good answer for it by banging it around the boards, and we weren’t able to keep those pucks in.”
The Pirates, who reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the club became affiliated with the Buffalo Sabres three years ago, held a 36-34 edge in shots.
“I don’t think it was anything on Portland,” Binghamton Coach Kurt Kleinendorst said. “I thought they worked really hard. I thought we were just a little bit harder on the puck. We broke up a lot of plays. We blocked a lot of shots. There were rebounds they couldn’t quite get to because we were swatting them away before they got to them. Honestly, I thought they played pretty darned hard. We just played a little harder.”
O’Brien opened the scoring 25 seconds into the game when O’Brien reeled off a rising shot in between the legs of a defender just after skating into the zone. The puck hit goalie Jhonas Enroth’s arm and glanced off his body before going into the net.
“You know what, there’s been lots of times when we’ve come back and scored during the year,” Dineen said. “It wasn’t a huge issue.”
Superior special-team play during the second period enabled Binghamton to keep Portland off the scoreboard and to add to its lead.
The Senators started the period with a power play, forcing Enroth to make six saves while he was peppered with shots.
During the middle of the period, the Pirates went on an extended power play, including a segment lasting a minute, 20 seconds when they skated with a two-man advantage. But Binghamton limited them to a single shot on goal during the entire 2:40 of the power play.
“Obviously, the five on three had a big effect in the hockey game,” Dineen said. “(We) don’t score there, and the momentum swings the other way. That was a big moment in the hockey game.”
With less than eight minutes left in the period, the Senators went on their third power play of the game. Zack Smith made it 2-0 when he scored his third playoff goal by lifting in a rebound from the left side.
“They won the special-teams’ game,” Dineen said. “That was the difference in the hockey game.”
Kaspars Daugavins completed the scoring by adding empty-netter with 1:21 left for his eighth playoff goal.
“Until that third one went in, I really didn’t have a chance to sit back back and catch my breath,” Kleinendorst said. “I give my guys a ton of credit on the effort they brought tonight. They worked their butts off.”
NOTES: Portland defenseman T.J. Brennan, who has now missed seven games because of an injury to his left foot, skated in pre-game warmups. A shoulder injury kept forward Dennis McCauley out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: