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Familiar tale for B-Sens, Bulldogs on NHL stage

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Corey Locke and the Binghamton Senators were a frustrated bunch on Friday night at Scotiabank Place, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
It was a case of deja vu all over again for the Binghamton Senators and Hamilton Bulldogs at Scotiabank Place on Friday night.

For the second straight year, goals were at a premium between the American Hockey League foes during a rare chance to display their wares on a bigger stage. And once again, it was the visiting Bulldogs prevailing by a 1-0 count on the home ice of the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators.

Alexander Avtsin's goal with 6:32 to play provided the only offence for either side but proved to be enough for the Bulldogs, the top affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. The B-Sens held a 33-18 edge in shots on goal but first Curtis Sanford, then Robert Mayer — who took over when Sanford was forced out after 20 minutes because of illness — denied Binghamton shooters at every turn.

"We had so many quality opportunities to bury pucks into open nets, but we just didn’t execute," Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst said afterward. "We want to win every game and once the game is over with, whether you win or lose, you ask yourself how did we win or lose? I thought the effort was there, the execution for the most part was there, but the finish is what we were lacking."

The closest call for Binghamton came near the end of the first period, when blueliner Craig Schira rang a shot of the goal post. In the final minute, the B-Sens swarmed Mayer but couldn't find the back of the net, with top gun Bobby Butler being denied by a pad save on a sharp wrist shot from in close. It was that kind of night.

"I had a bunch of chances tonight, but I didn’t hit my spot," said Butler, the AHL's leading goal scorer heading into Friday night's play with 14 . "I haven’t hit my spot the last couple of games. Hopefully, I can just get it out of my mind and keep putting the puck in the net. But right now, it’s just not going in. So hopefully, we just get back to it tomorrow (at the Albany Devils) and the chances will start going in. Not just for me, but for everyone."

It was a game that almost seemed destined to head to overtime until Avtsin took advantage of a kind bounce of the end boards. He flicked the puck from the end boards toward the Binghamton net, with his shot bouncing off the back of Lehner's skate into the net.

"Horrible. A bad bounce," Lehner said later in evaluating the goal. "I lost my position with my skate and it hit my skate and went in. That’s going to happen, but it’s too bad. I thought we played really well."

An announced crowd of 14,873 took in the game at Scotiabank Place and Kleinendorst, for one, thought they were treated to a rather decent show.

"Other than the score, I think if you’re a true hockey fan, I don’t know that you would have found it boring," he said. "There were chances. I think we outchanced them 16-7. So that’s 23 scoring chances in the game. You had some power-play time. We had a lot of quality puck possession with the goalie out. So if you’re a hockey fan, I think there was plenty to appreciate."

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