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Senators rookies drop tournament opener

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Mike Hoffman (68) battles for position with Carl Sneep of the Penguins in front of Pittsburgh goaltender Brad Thiessen during their rookie tournament game Saturday at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont. The Penguins won 5-3 (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images).

Bobby Butler scored a pair of goals as the Ottawa Senators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 in their rookie tournament opener Saturday afternoon in London, Ont.

Defenceman Eric Gryba also scored in the third period for the Senators, who couldn't make it all the way back from a 4-1 deficit after 40 minutes. Ottawa finished with a 25-20 edge in shots on goal.

Butler, the leading goal scorer in NCAA Division I hockey last season while with the New Hampshire Wildcats, gave the Senators their only lead by firing a shot past Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen at the 8:53 mark of the first period. But Zach Sill evened matters for Pittsburgh before the opening frame was over.

In the second, it was all Penguins as Dustin Jeffrey, Keven Veilleux and Sill put goals behind Senators netminder Robin Lehner in a 5:32 span to build a 4-1 lead. However, Butler notched his second of the afternoon at 10:30 of the third and Gryba found the back of the net with 1:37 remaining to make it interesting before the Penguins sealed it with an empty-netter by Jeffrey,

"It's no fun losing," said Lehner after the matchup at the John Labatt Centre. "We tried hard to come back there (and) made the best of it. As much as it hurts, you've got to take the good things out of it, look at the negatives and try to get better."

Binghamton Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst, who's behind the Ottawa bench in this tournament, is hopeful he'll see exactly that when his squad faces off against the Chicago Blackhawks rookies on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m., Rogers Television, Team 1200).

"There's a lot of work to be done," said Kleinendorst. "But that's where all these kids are in their development. There's a lot of work to be done on their games. It's always nice to come out on the right side of the scoreboard but at the end of the day, it's early ... What we saw today was a very raw product and from here, we move forward and hope to see some improvement.

"Like I told the guys, there's always lessons to be learned. When we play the right way, like we did in the third, it's pretty obvious what the results can be. The second period, we got away from doing the little things that mattered and that's where this game got away from us."

With his two goals, Butler showcased exactly what he needs to do to contend for a roster spot when Senators main camp opens next Friday at Scotiabank Place. It was his offensive talents that led Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray to sign the native of Marlborough, Mass., as a college free agent back in March.

"It's good to help," said Butler. "I felt good coming down and I just went on instincts. I was very happy that they went in. You've just got to bury any chance you can get ... putting it in certainly helps (my chances)."

Defenceman Patrick Wiercioch recorded a pair of assists for the Senators.

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