A slow start proved costly for the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday.
The Bulldogs allowed two goals in the opening ten minutes of their American Hockey League game against the Binghamton Senators, and were unable to dig out of that early hole.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau's second-period goal stood as the winner, as the Senators defeated the Bulldogs 3-2.
Hamilton defenceman Frederic St. Denis argued that his team was too content to sit back as it began Friday's game.
"Maybe we were too shy," said St. Denis. "We took it too easy as a team. We knew that (Binghamton) had a fast team, and they're near the top of their division. We just watched them play a little bit too much."
Joey Tenute agreed with his teammate's assessment, and said that lapses are a luxury that the Bulldogs cannot afford.
"We just came out flat tonight, that's the bottom line," said Tenute. "We're a team that has to play 60 minutes, and we're a team that needs every guy in the room to be on the top of his game to be successful."
Cole Schneider and Cory Cowick also scored for the Senators (32-17-5), while Nathan Lawson made 28 saves in the win.
Joey Tenute and Louis Leblanc had goals for the Bulldogs (21-27-6), while Robert Mayer stopped 27 of 30 shots.
Binghamton established a 3-1 lead just 34 seconds into the second period.
Dustin Gazley held the puck on the left, and found the unmarked Cowick in the high slot with a cross-ice pass. The winger released a quick shot that Mayer slid across to deny, but the resulting rebound slid out to Papeau, who easily fired it into the gaping net.
Hamilton struggled to mount consistent pressure through much of the second period, but found a breakthrough for its second goal of the game at 13:55.
Mike Blunden carried the puck over the blue-line on the right wing and dropped a pass to Leblanc, who fired a one-time slap shot high and past Lawson's glove on the short side.
A bizarre play nearly resulted in an equalizing goal for the Bulldogs seven minutes into the third, when a Zach Stortini shot took a radical deflection, fluttered above Lawson and bounced off the top of his net.
Hamilton pulled Mayer with just over two minutes to play in the third, but the Bulldogs were unable to find an equalizer.
Binghamton took an early lead at 2:12 of the opening period, after Hamilton's Greg Pateryn was whistled for hooking.
Shane Prince curled in to the right circle on the ensuing power play and fired a low wrist shot on Mayer that was kicked directly into the path of Schneider, and the winger quickly slotted it past the sprawling goaltender.
That lead doubled six minutes later, when the Senators got the final touch on a goal-mouth scramble.
A shot from the point by Mark Borowiecki was lost in a maze of bodies in front of Mayer's net, and it was Cowick who eventually managed to corral the puck and chip it in at 8:18 of the first.
Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre rued the sloppy play that ultimately doomed his team to a loss.
"We weren't sharp to start with either puck plays or our defensive zone positioning and support," said Lefebvre. "We weren't ready to play at the start and we took a penalty, and we weren't ready to kill. All of a sudden, we're down 2-0."
The Bulldogs answered almost immediately, creating traffic in front of Lawson to find their first goal of the night and cut their deficit in half.
Jarred Tinordi took a low slap shot that caught the stick of winger Patrick Holland and deflected on goal. The stunned Lawson stopped the initial shot, but the puck fell to Tenute in the slot, and he out-waited the netminder and slotted the puck past him at 11:04 of the first.