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B-Sens facing uphill climb after tight loss to Aeros

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Goaltender Robin Lehner, who stopped 28 of 30 shots he faced Wednesday night, and the Binghamton Senators are down 2-1 in the Calder Cup Finals after falling to the Houston Aeros 2-1 (Just Sports Photography).

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Now the Binghamton Senators are facing an uphill fight in their bid to make some American Hockey League history.

The Houston Aeros scored once apiece in the first and second periods and withstood a fierce B-Sens charge in the third for a 2-1 road win on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series before a sellout throng of 4,710 at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

"It's too bad we couldn't have played that way the whole game," B-Sens head coach Kurt Kleinendorst said of his team's spirited charge in the final minutes. "That's probably the biggest surprise for me — that we'd come home to a great crowd for Game 3, which we know is a pivotal point in most series, and it just didn't feel like we played as well as we can play.

"We've got to give credit to Houston ... but at the same time, I know this group, I know my guys, and we're not quite where we need to be. We're close, but close isn't going to cut it. We're going to have to fight for every little inch."

Aeros captain Jon DiSalvatore put his club on the board just 1:08 after the opening faceoff when he banged home his own rebound for his sixth goal of the postseason, with rookie Jared Spurgeon and Patrick O’Sullivan picking up assists.

Defenceman Nate Prosser extended the lead to 2-0 at 12:51 of the second period, as he found a loose puck and buried it past Senators goaltender Robin Lehner for his second goal of the post-season. DiSalvatore and O’Sullivan assisted on Prosser’s goal, which turned out to be the game winner.

The Senators cut their deficit in half only 2:52 into the third frame, as captain Ryan Keller cashed in on a power play for his ninth playoff marker. Zack Smith and defenceman Andre Benoit, whose wrister from the point was deflected by Keller, picked up assists on the play.

But Binghamton was unable to solve Houston goaltender Matt Hackett again the rest of the way. Hackett finished with 28 saves on 29 shots in net, and the rookie improved to 14-7 in 21 post-season appearances. Lehner stopped 28 of 30 shots he faced.

The Senators, who piled up 21 goals in their four-game sweep of Charlotte in the Eastern Conference final, have managed to score only four times through the first three games of this series. They stormed the Houston net in the final minute, hit a couple of crossbars and a post but couldn't notch the equalizer.

"The positive you can take out of it is we feel we started what we need to do to be successful, and we kind of got our game going a bit," said Binghamton captain Ryan Keller. "Unfortunately, it was too late. There were chances there, and that's the playoffs. That's the Calder Cup Finals.

"It's a play here, a bounce there ... it's tight. It can go either way. Unfortunately, tonight, we just came up a bit short."

Binghamton, which is now just 4-5 on home ice during these playoffs, will look to bounce back when Game 4 goes on Friday night at the Broome County Arena (7:05 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200). Game 5 is also in Binghamton on Saturday evening.

— Files from contributed to this story

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