ALBANY, N.Y. (December 11, 2004). With a dazzling display of skating, and shooting accuracy up to the occasion, Aleksander Suglubov of the Albany River Rats got both the game-tying goal midway through the third period (to knot the score at two apiece), as well as the game winning goal against Binghamton in overtime.
Along the way, the River Rats snapped a 10-game homeless streak at home; collected their third win in four games and showed the East Division rivals, the Binghamton Senators, that the fourth and final division playoff spot now held by the Senators will be seriously contested as the season progresses. (Albany opened the season with a home win against the Senators; later picked up a shoot-out road win at the Broome County Veterans' Memorial Arena; and tonight kept their record perfect against the Senators this season.)
It certainly was not a promising start for the Rats tonight. The Albany power play lacked crisp passes, movement in the zone without the puck, and effective shots. The Senators, featuring Jason Spezza and Denis Hamel on the penalty kill, silenced all seven Rats' power plays. On the other hand, the usually reliable River Rats' penalty kill was not up to par tonight. Binghamton capitalized on their first two power plays (and two of four overall).
With Dean McAmmond in the box for hooking Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette scored after a slow whistle when Scott Clemmensen appeared to have the puck covered in the crease. The Senators' forward kept poking at it and jabbed it over the line as a pile of players jostled for position in front.
The Senators upped their lead early in the second period on another power play goal, this one a blast from the blue line by Anton Volchenkov that clanged off the left post before going behind Clemmensen.
A tight checking game prevailed most of the rest of the way. Ahren Nittel of the River Rats, playing in only his third game of the season (after a bout of mononucleosis), notched his second goal in as many nights. He flung the puck at the net from the edge of the right wing circle by the boards and it snuck past a surprised Billy Thompson. That goal breathed a bit of hope into the Rats who had worked hard, particularly at even strength, without much to show for it on the scoreboard.
Then, late in the third period and in the extra session, Aleksander Suglubov showed why he is a top Devils' prospect. The goal that tied it began with Aaron Voros working hard along the wall and in the corner to keep the puck in the offensive zone. After Voros dished off to Suglubov behind the net, the smooth-skating Russian winger circled all the way out to just inside the blue line before uncorking a shot that dinged the post before going in.
In overtime, an equally impressive goal by Suglubov gave the Rats a victory. Albany was changing lines and Alex Brooks had dumped the puck in the left corner. Suglubov retrieved it, fought off a defender while skating to a spot between the circles, then snapped a quick backhander that grazed the post as it went into the net.
The three stars: third, to Albany goaltender, Scott Clemmensen, for 24 saves on 26 Binghamton shots; second, to Senators' forward Josh Langfeld, with Binghamton's first goal; and, first, by acclamation, to Aleksander Suglubov of the River Rats, with the game-tying marker late in the third period and the overtime game-winner.