HAMILTON, Ont. – Nolan Baumgartner didn’t know what he was doing in front of the Hamilton Bulldogs’ net, but whatever it was certainly worked.
The Manitoba defenceman scored in overtime as the Moose overcame a slow start to beat the Bulldogs 2-1 in American Hockey League action on Monday night.
Baumgartner tapped a pass from Mario Bliznak through the legs of Hamilton goalie Curtis Sanford two minutes 49 seconds into the overtime period. Sanford was sprawled on the ground and unable to find the puck underneath him as it slid slowly into the net.
“It was a little bit of a lucky bounce,” said Baumgartner. “Sanford was sliding the other way and it went back under his pad. He didn’t know where it was, and I just poked it in. I didn’t even know what I was doing up there.”
Manitoba (6-3-0) maintained their place atop the North Division. Hamilton (3-0-2) saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
Manitoba only managed 13 shots through the first two periods, including three during the second. Hamilton also struggled on the attack, coming up empty on seven power plays included a lengthy five-on-three.
The Bulldogs were also unable to take advantage of a penalty shot after centre Ryan White was tripped up on a short-handed breakaway 12 minutes into the first period. Moose goalie Cory Schneider came out to cut off the angle and make a pad save on White’s attempt.
Manitoba’s leading scorer Sergei Shirokov finally opened the scoring nearly seven minutes into the third period after he broke down the right wing unmarked. The Russian prospect scored his third of the season with a wrist shot that beat Sanford glove side.
The Bulldogs answered back two minutes later. Brock Trotter’s pass from behind the net found centre Ryan Russell unmarked in the slot. Schneider had little chance to stop Russell’s shot from point-blank range.
“I think we came across a hot goaltender (Schneider) who was very solid. He was a piece of plywood out there,” said Hamilton coach Guy Boucher. “We missed too many (chances) but they played very well. It’s not like we missed 50 open nets.”
It was Sanford’s first time facing his old team. He played in 16 games with Manitoba last season, after the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks replaced him with Jason LaBarbera. Sanford signed with Hamilton’s parent club, the Montreal Canadiens, in the off-season.
“I was able to go out for dinner with a couple of (Manitoba) guys last night,” said Sanford. “It’s a good rivalry. We try and stay friends off the ice, but not on the ice.”
Hamilton was without defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who was called up by the Canadiens on Sunday after a conditioning stint with the Bulldogs.
“The fact that Bergeron left gave some chances to other guys,” said Boucher. “P.K. Subban played very well and had a chance to get more power-play time.”
Copps Coliseum was full of empty seats for the game. While the reported attendance was 2,350, the actual attendance was likely far less.
The teams play again Tuesday night before Hamilton visits San Antonio and Manitoba visits Chicago, both on Oct. 23.
NOTES: Hamilton was without defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who was called up by the Canadiens on Sunday. Defenceman Shawn Belle rejoined the Bulldogs for Monday’s game after playing two games for Montreal.
Manitoba was missing left-winger Michael Grabner, who was called up to the Canucks on Wednesday, and centre Alexandre Bolduc, who Vancouver recalled on Saturday.