BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Binghamton Rangers scored 14 seconds after the opening faceoff, zoomed to a 4-0 lead and held off a Baltimore rally to defeat the Skipjacks, 5-4, last night at Broome County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The victory, achieved before a small crowd of 3,038, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The second game will be played here tonight.
The Rangers, who built a 3-0 first-period lead on a pair of goals by Rob Zamuner and one from Guy Larose, raised the lead to 4-0 at 5 minutes, 37 seconds of the second period on Per Djoos' goal from the right point.
"On my first goal, the puck hit a defenseman, but I got the puck back and scored," Zamuner said. "The second goal was a lucky shot. I didn't have very much room, and I put it over the goalie's shoulder."
His coach, John Paddock, called it a "major-league shot. But you expect that from Zamuner."
When coach Rob Laird pulled starting goalie Jim Hrivnak in favor of Shawn Simpson after the score became 4-0, the Skipjacks seemed to gain new life.
"I don't want to talk about losing; I want to talk about the positive aspects of the game," Laird said. "After being down 4-0, we outshot Binghamton, 16-5, in the second period. We dominated the boards, and we showed a lot of poise. It was a very rough start, but I hope this was a learning experience."
Kent Paynter and John Purves, on a breakway, cut the Binghamton lead to 4-2 at the end of the second period.
Reggie Savage, taking an up-ice feed from Alfie Turcotte, scored on a breakaway, cutting the lead to 4-3 at 4:08 of the third period.
However, Larose's second goal of the game, during a power play in the third period, gave Binghamton a 5-3 lead. Turcotte's power-play goal, during a goal-mouth scramble, cut the lead to 5-4 with 3:56 remaining.
Simpson made 25 saves, allowing one goal during a power play. Laird pulled him with 38 seconds remaining in favor of an extra attacker, but Baltimore did not get the equalizer.
"It's amazing that Simpson has the ability to come in when he's cold and play so well," Laird said. "The team plays very well in front of him."
Paddock agreed with Laird. "Simpson played very well for Baltimore, but we really didn't test him until the third period. Both teams played well, but we got Baltimore in a hole early, and it was tough for them to climb out.
"Baltimore is a very good hockey team, and this is going to be a long, tough series."
Binghamton took a 1-0 lead 14 seconds after the opening faceoff. Rick Bennett, behind the goal, fed the puck to Larose, who was at the right post, and he put a wrist shot past Hrivnak.
The Rangers made the score 2-0 at 4:54 when Zamuner scored an unassisted power-play goal. Zamuner took a slap shot from the left circle that caromed off Hrivnak's pads and into the goal. Joel Quenneville was in the penalty box for tripping.
Zamuner's second goal of the period, on a shot from the left circle that went over Hrivnak's shoulder, gave Binghamton a 3-0 lead at 9:31.
Binghamton, scoring on its first shot of the second period, raised the score to 4-0. Djoos fired a slap shot from the right point that beat Hrivnak low and to the glove side at 5:37.
At this point, Laird brought Simpson into the game.
The Skipjacks got on the scoreboard at 10:23 of the second period when goalie Mark LaForest misplayed Paynter's shot from the left point during a power play. LaForest came out of the net to play the shot, but the puck bounced over his stick and into the cage, cutting the lead to 4-1.
Purves, making a pretty rush up ice, deked out a defenseman, broke free at the hash marks, and beat LaForest from close range with a back hand shot at 18:48 to reduce the lead to 4-2.
Baltimore got Hrivnak and defenseman Paynter back from the Washington Capitals prior to game time and defenseman Chris Felix, out for nearly three months with a broken leg, also played last night.
"It's good getting Hrivnak and Paynter back from Washington and Felix gives us another dimension on the power play," Laird said. "Felix is also very adept at carrying the puck up ice and getting things started in the offensive end."
Center Rob Murray served the first game of a two-game suspension last night for a stick infraction in the Baltimore's final home regular-season game last week.
"It's tough not playing," said Murray, who watched the game from the press box. "You get kind of antsy watching from here. I'd like to be out on the ice, but there is nothing you can do."