|Binghamton Senators forward Francis Lessard battles for position in front of the Hamilton Bulldogs net during their game Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
The Binghamton Senators are stuck in a rut.
And a change in scenery to the bright lights of the big city didn't do much to pull them out of it. Rather, the issues plaguing the B-Sens were front and centre once again Sunday afternoon as they fell 5-2 to the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of 8,427 at Scotiabank Place.
Patrick Wiercioch and Jim O'Brien scored the goals for Binghamton (5-9-1-1), which dug itself a 3-0 second-period hole in seeing its winless streak extended to seven games. The B-Sens have been outscored 21-10 during that stretch and outshot frequently, including 33-18 by the Bulldogs in this one.
"We're not getting enough pucks to the net," said Wiercioch. "Most nights, we're outshot almost two to one. We're not giving our goalie any help whatsoever. You can't expect a guy to have to put up 30 or 40 saves a night ... just so we have a chance to win."
What you see is what you get these days, B-Sens head coach Kurt Kleinendorst said of his clearly struggling team.
"It's kind of where we are right now," he said in summing up the play of his team against the 'Dogs. "We're definitely below the line and it doesn't take a lot to deflate us. All in all, what we did tonight ... you won't win hockey games. No chance. That's from the net all the way to the far end. I think we all take ownership of this one."
Added Wiercioch: "We're sliding a little bit and we'd like to get that momentum turned the other way. It's a fine line between winning and losing and sometimes, there's that moment in the game where you know you're going to win or you know you're going to lose. We're just under that line right now."
While the B-Sens had their moments in this annual contest at Scotiabank Place, they came only in spurts. It wasn't nearly enough against the Bulldogs, who got goals from Brian Willsie, Joonas Nattinen, Frederic St-Denis, Andreas Engqvist and Louis Leblanc. The Nattinen and St-Denis tallies came on the power play in the second period and built a 3-0 lead the B-Sens simply didn't have the firepower to overcome.
"We don't score a lot of goals," said Kleinendorst, whose team remains without the injured Corey Locke, the American Hockey League's scoring champ and most valuable player in 2010-11. "We're down 3-0 and that just makes it tough on us. It's where we are right now. We're not playing great.
"There are moments where we're playing pretty good, but not good enough to win a hockey game. There's a few moments where you like what you see, but that's been the exception more than the rule right now."
Goaltender Robin Lehner, who made 28 saves on Sunday, said the time for a turnaround is now.
"We weren't very good, myself included," he said. "We've got to find a way here to bounce back and start playing some good hockey games. We're struggling right now and we've got to work a little bit harder ... We've all got to do some soul searching here and try to go home and get better.
"It's just not flowing for us and we're in a rut. We've just got to start working harder. That's the only thing that's going to get us out of this ... We just haven't got a win lately and that's mentally hard for everyone."
The Bulldogs, the primary affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, have won all three games between the two rivals played at Scotiabank Place, the last two by 1-0 margins. They meet again Friday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.