Bandits rally to defeat Rangers, 8-5 Victory is 3rd straight, 8th in past 10 games

April 14, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The most important thing about the Bandits' game with Binghamton last night wasn't that Baltimore won; it was how it won.

The Bandits' 8-5 victory over the Southern Division champion Rangers before 4,643 fans at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena had no bearing on the standings, but it sent a message about what the opposition can expect in the playoffs.

Baltimore did everything it wanted: play solid defense, get balanced scoring from all three lines, give workhorse goalie Mike O'Neill a rest, and win in a building it might spend some time in during the postseason.

The Bandits went 5-6-1 in the season series with the Rangers, 3-2-1 in Binghamton, and the teams will hook up again if they win their first-round playoff matchups. The Bandits also maintained their late-season momentum with their third straight win and eighth in their past 10 games.

"If we're fortunate enough to get out of the first round, and they're fortunate enough to get out of the first round, this could be a good matchup," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle. "I'm glad for us that we won the last two games here. We showed that we

can play with these guys if we do certain things well. Down the stretch, we want to gain momentum and come out healthy. I'm happy."

Viacheslav Butsayev led the way for the Bandits with a goal and three assists, and five of his teammates also had multiple points. Backup goalie Mike Torchia anchored the defense, making 43 saves in his third start as a Bandit.

Binghamton's AHL-best power-play unit got to Torchia early. Peter Ferraro scored on a five-on-three man advantage, tying an AHL record with his 27th power-play goal of the season, and less than two minutes later, Neil Eisenhut ripped a deceptive wrist shot for a 2-0 lead.

The Bandits scored on one of their four first-period power plays to close the gap late in the period. Oleg Mikulchik, playing in his first game since receiving 130 stitches for his severed neck March 29, feathered a beautiful cross-ice pass that rookie Mike Maneluk directed off his shins and into the net for his 33rd goal of the season.

With the Rangers up 3-1, the Bandits rallied for four goals on their next six shots. Butsayev beat Jamie Ram with a wrist shot and tough guy Peter Leboutillier scored his seventh goal of the season, and third in three games, on a rebound to tie the game at 3.

Binghamton went up 4-3 with less than nine minutes to play in the second period. A minute later, oft-injured forward Steven King evened the score.

The Bandits took their first lead of the game on Igor Nikulin's first professional goal in his second AHL game.

Bandits tonight

Opponent: Hershey Bears

Site: Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, Pa.

Time: 6

Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WAMD (970 AM)

Outlook: The longtime rivals have played to a 5-5-1 standoff heading into the finale. And, after two exhibitions and 12 regular-season games, the Bears and Bandits will collide in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs beginning Friday at Hersheypark Arena.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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