There was plenty of growl… just not enough bite.
Despite outshooting the Texas Stars by a more than two-to-one margin (43-20), the Hamilton Bulldogs fell 4-2 last night (Wednesday) and concluded their American Hockey League playoffs. With the win, the visitors to Copps Coliseum claimed the Western Conference crown in Game Seven and advance to the Calder Cup final.
They will open a best-of-seven series against the Eastern Conference champions, the Hershey Bears, on June 3 in Hershey.
Hamilton had built a 2-0 lead and dominated play for the first 35 minutes of play.
It wasn’t until the Texans scored their first goal at 14:38 of the second period that the Stars appeared to show any interest in the game. Up to that point they had mustered a mere five shots on net – all in the first period – but would finish the second period with a two-period total of 11.
Hamilton started the second period with a 15-5 edge in shots and opened the third period holding a 34-11 margin in shots with the score 2-1 in their favour.
But the shots-on-net statistic would prove worthless.
The Stars tied the game at 9:15 of the third period and would score the eventual winner with six minutes left in the game. Jamie Benn’s 14th goal in the post-season at 18:33 gave the Stars an unnecessary insurance marker to disappoint the 5,121 in attendance.
Also scoring for the Stars were Ethan Graham, Mathieu Beaudoin, and Perttu Lindgren, who had a pair of assists as well.
For the Bulldogs, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty beat netminder Matt Climie.
Hamilton opened the scoring at 19:51 of the first period. Aaron Palushaj received the puck from J.T. Wyman before snapping a shot on net that was saved by Climie. The rebound bounced onto the stick of Desharnais, who fired the puck into the net.
The ‘Dogs took a 2-0 lead at 5:32 of the second stanza. Climie stopped P.K. Subban’s point shot but Pacioretty picked up the rebound before backhanding the puck past Climie.
The Stars got on the scoreboard at 14:38 of the middle frame. Ethan Graham received a pass from Warren Peters before dumping the puck into the Bulldogs’ zone. The puck took an awkward bounced which fooled goaltender Curtis Sanford. The puck trickled past the goaltender and across the goal line.
Texas tied the game 2-2 at 9:15 of the third period. Lindgren gave the puck to Beaudoin, who was positioned in the slot. Beaudoin snapped a shot past Sanford. Lindgren gave the Stars a 3-2 lead at 14:00.
Benn sealed the win for Texas with a goal at 18:33. Colton Sceviour carried the puck into the Bulldogs’ zone before sending a pass across the ice to Benn who tapped the puck past Sanford.
Hamilton was unable to capitalize on the game’s three penalties assessed to the Stars.