Power play goals, shorthanded goals, even a short-handed penalty shot goal. Oh yes, even regular strength goals. The Hamilton Bulldogs had everything working for them on Saturday night at Copps Coliseum as they turned back the Rochester Americans, 7-4, and claimed second place for themselves.
The win allowed the Bulldogs to leap one point ahead of the Amerks in the Western Conference’s North Division, 88 points to 87, as the regular season schedule winds down. Hamilton has eight games remaining, including today’s (Sunday, April 1) date with the Toronto Marlies at Copps at 4 p.m. That will be Hamilton’s third game in as many nights. They also won on Friday night.
On Saturday, Hamilton scored five goals on special teams in front of 5,387 spectators. The ‘Dogs potted three goals with the man-advantage and two while shorthanded, including Kyle Chipchura’s penalty shot as Hamilton improved its record to 40-24-3-5.
The evening got off to a less than encouraging start with Rochester scoring on the power-play just 2:06 into the first period. Marek Zagrapan tipped Mark Mancari’s point shot past goaltender Yann Danis.
But Hamilton responded with three goals in less than five minutes to take a 3-1 lead before the end of the opening frame. The Bulldogs tied the game at 10:36 when Mikhail Grabovski’s centering pass deflected off a skate in front of the net and past Americans goaltender David Shantz. With Hamilton on a two-man advantage, Mathieu Biron one-timed Corey Locke’s pass at 17:09. Just 52 seconds later, Jonathan Ferland banged in a loose puck in front of the Rochester net with the Bulldogs on the power play to give Hamilton a two-goal lead.
At 7:31 of the second period, the ‘Dogs scored shorthanded to take a 4-1 lead. While streaking down the left side, Ajay Baines took a pass from Kyle Chipchura, cut to the net and beat Shantz with a backhand shot. The crowd was just getting back into its seats when the Amerks cut the lead in half just 48 seconds later with a power-play goal from Stefan Meyer.
Chipchura was awarded a penalty shot when he was hooked to the ice with the Bulldogs shorthanded. Chipchura used a nifty deke to slide the puck into the net on his forehand and restore Hamilton’s three-goal lead. Eric Manlow gave the Bulldogs a 6-2 lead when he scored his third goal of the season by burying his own rebound at 13:56. Corey Locke and Matt D’Agostini collected assists.
With Hamilton on the power play, Ferland scored his second goal of the game (he also had one assist) on a three-on-none rush when he one-timed Cory Urquhart’s pass behind Shantz to put the ‘Dogs up by five goals. With two seconds remaining in the middle frame, Amerks forward Drew Larman beat Danis with a one-time shot to make the score 7-3.
Rochester completed the scoring when Mancari centered the puck to Rob Globke whose beat Danis at 2:07 of the third period.
Danis made 14 saves on 18 shots while Shantz stopped 31 of 38 shots. Hamilton held the Amerks to five shots in each of the second and third periods.
The Bulldogs were 3-for-6 on the power play while the Americans went 2-for-3 with the extra-man.