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Big games for Saad, Jimmy Hayes in loss to Sens rookies

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OSHAWA, ONT. - The Blackhawks battled hard playing their second game in less than fifteen hours at the Rookie Tournament but dropped the game 6-5 to the Ottawa Senators Sunday afternoon.

As much as last night’s game against Toronto was a physical battle, this afternoon’s matchup was all about skill, and the Blackhawks certainly have a lot of that in their young prospects. Both teams traded great opportunities early, but it was the Senators who got on the scoreboard first. Right off a defensive zone faceoff the puck flew across the crease to Senators forward Andre Peterson who buried the puck in the back of the net, leaving no chance for Blackhawks starting netminder Johan Mattsson.

The Blackhawks wasted no time in getting themselves right back into the contest just 39 seconds later as former 7th round draft pick Peter LeBlanc took a quick shot from the slot that beat Senators goaltender Matej Machovsky five-hole. Later in the first the Blackhawks got their first power play opportunity of the game, but it was the Senators who capitalized on a blown play behind Chicago’s net leaving Corey Cowick to bank the puck in off Mattsson’s pad and into the net.

The Blackhawks continued to show their resilience though, evening up the game just 29 seconds later on a power play goal by Brandon Saad who wired the puck in off the post.  Fellow 2011 draft pick Phillip Danault was rewarded with the assist after creating numerous chances thus far in the tournament. In the dying seconds of the first period, Saad, a 2011 2nd rounder, jammed the puck in on a scramble in front of the net to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 advantage.

The Blackhawks looked to be out of gas at the start of the second period as the Senators scored three unanswered goals in the first nine minutes to reclaim the lead.

Chicago settled in by the end of the frame, scoring with 30 seconds left in the period to pull them within one goal, trailing 5-4. Boston College alum Jimmy Hayes was left all alone out front and got a beautiful pass from Saad. Hayes then deked the goalie out, scoring on a backhand shot in the top corner.

Both teams again traded chances in the third but it wasn’t until just over three minutes left when Senators rookie Mika Zibanejad fired one from the slot that just squeezed through Mattsson.

There was no quit in the Blackhawks today as for the third time in the contest Chicago followed a Senators goal with one of their own only 28 seconds later by Hayes, his second of the contest.  It wasn’t quite enough as the Blackhawks couldn't score in the dying seconds with the net empty.

The story of today’s game continued to be the play of Saad. The 18 year-old forward now leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 5 points (3G, 2A) through the first two tournament games.  Jimmy Hayes also was a stand-out as he scored two goals in the game and developed excellent chemistry with Saad.

The Blackhawks prospects will now enjoy a day off tomorrow before wrapping up the tournament Tuesday afternoon at the General Motors Centre when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1 p.m.

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