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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Matt Tomkins (90) clears the puck away from Ottawa Senators center Matt Duchene (95) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre.Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

After two exhibition games it’s clear Alex Formenton has made an early impression on Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher.

Formenton scored his first of the pre-season as the Senators dropped a 5-2 decision against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

With a focus on the young guys in the system, it was Formenton and Filip Chlapik who earned praise from Boucher despite Ottawa losing its third straight exhibition game.

“From the beginning to the end they were able to push hard, not change their game, so mentally you’re staying strong and making strong plays,” said Boucher. “Chlapik played a really good one last game and played another good one (Friday). Formenton was really good from the beginning to the end so for him a really solid game.”

Boucher added that it was good to see his young guys go up against some of Chicago’s top prospects.

“They’re fighting against players like them that are hungry,” said Boucher. “For the young guys they’re pushing hard. Their guys we knew were going to come and push hard and we saw the guys on our team that were able to do so from beginning to the end so we get a lot of information from it.”

Last year Formenton was the surprise in training camp and he’s once again going to make Boucher’s decision difficult when it’s time to decide if he stays or goes back to junior with the London Knights.

“I was a little bit nervous last year around this time just coming out of freshly being drafted,” said Ottawa’s second-round pick, 47th overall from 2017.

“Being through all those camps and starting out with the Sens last year and making an appearance in Belleville (AHL) at the end of the year, I just took all the little parts of my game and tried to learn as much as I could while I was up there so feeling a little more confident in here.”

Blackhawks goalie Collin Delia deserved much of the credit for the Hawks victory as he was solid, stopping all but two of the 19 shots he faced.

“He was spectacular,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “The score could have easily been flip flopped the way the game was. They missed some empty nets and some great looks, but he made some huge saves.”

Matt Tomkins stopped all seven shots he faced in relief.

Andreas Martinsen and Dominik Kahun led the way with a goal and an assist each as the Blackhawks picked up their first win of the pre-season. Marcus Kruger, Luke Johnson and John Hayden also scored.

Formenton and Matt Duchene scored for the Senators. Mike Condon allowed two goals on 11 shots before being replaced by Filip Gustavsson.

Gustavsson was acquired as part of the Derick Brassard trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and was making his Senators debut. The 20-year-old gave up three goals on 17 shots.

Thomas Chabot played his first game of the pre-season. The sophomore defenceman is expected to quarterback the power play and take on added responsibility with the departure of Erik Karlsson.

Ottawa was 1 for 6 with the man advantage.

Chicago took a 3-2 lead early in the third as Martinsen found Kruger in the slot and he ripped a shot past Gustavsson. Shortly after Martinsen scored his own through traffic to make it 4-2. Hayden scored shortside to make it 5-2.

Chicago tied the game 2-2 midway through the second as Kahun was left all alone at the left of the net and beat Condon shortside, ending the goaltender’s night.

The Senators led 2-1 after the first period.

Formenton rushed to the net and beat Delia through the legs early in the period, while Duchene picked up his own rebound and flicked it over a sprawled Delia on the power play.

The Hawks managed to cut the lead in half with a power-play goal of their own when Johnson beat Condon with a one-timer.

The Senators are back in action Saturday night in Montreal against the Canadiens.

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