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Senators end rookie tournament on high note

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
One more time, the Ottawa Senators had the last word.

Power-play goals by Mike Hoffman and Eric Condra in the third period lifted the Senators past the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday night at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont. It was the rookie tournament finale for both teams and for the second straight game, the Senators used a rally in the final 20 minutes to earn the victory.

On Sunday, the Senators trailed 3-1 after two period but erupted for six goals in the third to cruise past the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. The deficit was only 2-1 tonight but Ottawa showed the right kind of finish one more time.

"The best part was, we battled," said Binghamton Senators assistant coach Steve Stirling, who was behind the bench with B-Sens head man Kurt Kleinendorst. "Two nights ago, we fell behind (against the Hawks) with not a great goal in the second period. We had a little bit of adversity again today. A good first period, (but) the second period we got a little lazy and we were behind coming into the third. Then we came out and played hard. So there were a lot of positives."

Certainly, that might also apply to Hoffman, who had a goal and assist to spark the comeback against the Hawks and found the back of the net twice against the Leafs. It has Hoffman, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's most valuable player last season, in a good frame of mind heading into Senators main camp later this week.

"Things were clicking (for me) these three games," said Hoffman, a fifth-round pick (130th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, who scored 98 goals in his final two seasons of junior hockey. "I had good linemates and I was in the right spot at the right times to get some goals, so that worked out.

"Getting a few points in this tournament gives you confidence heading into main camp."

Robin Lehner made 24 saves in goal for the Senators, who held a 27-26 edge in shots.

The Senators, who dropped their rookie tournament opener Saturday to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3, finished with a 2-1-0 record. So, too, did the Pens after falling to the Hawks 9-5 earlier today. Chicago and Toronto both wound up 1-2-0.

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