BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Two second-period goals and excellen goaltending by Mark Laforest led the Binghamton Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Baltimore Skipjacks last night in an American Hockey League Calder Cup playoff game before 3,369 in the Broome County Veterans Arena.
Guy Larose and Rick Bennett scored for Binghamton, which now holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Southern Division semifinal series. The series moves to Baltimore for the next two games -- Thursday and Saturday at the Baltimore Arena.
For second night in a row, Laforest was superb, making 41 saves and stopping the Skipjacks on five power-play chances.
Jim Hrivnak played well in the Baltimore goal, stopping 31 Binghamton shots, but the Skipjacks could not crack Laforest.
The scoreless first period featured excellent goaltending at both ends of the rink. Hrivnak made 14 saves -- two of which he saved without his stick -- and Laforest made nine saves for the Rangers. Each team had a power-play opportunity in the first 20 minutes but failed to score.
Larose broke the scoreless tie by out-muscling a Skipjacks defenseman and beating Hrivnak from close range with a backhand shot midway through the second period.
The Rangers upped their advantage to 2-0 at 18 minutes, 54 seconds of the second period as Bennett climaxed a three-on-one break by beating Hrivnak with a wrist shot.
The Skipjacks outshot the Rangers, 16-9, in the second period but could not get one past Laforest.
NOTES: The Skipjacks left after last night's game to return to Baltimore . . . The Skipjacks finished the regular season with the best penalty-killing record in the AHL, allowing only 54 goals in 308 opportunities, 82.5 percent efficiency and had the third-best power play in the AHL, 23.2 percent . . . Binghamton led the AHL in penalty minutes with 2,541 and in short-handed goals with 15 . . . The Skipjacks scratched G Byron Dafoe, D Wade Bartley, LW Todd Hlushko, D Bobby Babcock, D Jiri Vykoukal and C Rob Murray, who was serving the final game of his two-game suspension . . . Binghamton scratched LW Dan Lacroix, LW Lou DeBrusk, LW Greg Spenrath, D Mike Hurlbut and D Kord Cernich.
Baltimore 0 0 0 -- 0
Binghamton 0 2 0 -- 2
First period--none. Penalties--Mathieson, Bal (holding), 7:45; Djoos, Bin ( tripping), 13:44; Bloemberg, Bin (slashing), 19:54.
Second period--1. Binghamton, Larose 3 (Armstrong), 9:05; 2. Binghamton, Bennett 1 ( Armstrong, Larose), 18:54. Penalties--Larose, Bin (holding), 6:40.
Third period--none. Penalties--Rice, Bin (hooking), 2:26; Reynolds, Bal (high-sticking ), 6:19; Reynolds, Bal (roughing), 10:46; Larose, Bin double-minor (roughing), 10:46; Taylor, Bal (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:00; Laviolette, Bin ( unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:00; Maltais, Bal (slashing), 17:36.
Shots on goal--Baltimore 9-16-16-41. Binghamton 14-9-10-33. Power-play opportunities--Baltimore 0 of 5. Binghamton 0 of 3. Goalies--Baltimore, Hrivnak 0-1 (33 shots, 31 saves). Binghamton, Laforest 2-0 (41-41). Att--3,369. Referee--Dennis LaRue. Linesmen--John Galipeau, Dan Murphy.