HAMILTON – Oliver Fortier broke out of an extended slump with a four-point effort as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Toronto Marlies 5-1 in American Hockey League play Sunday afternoon.
Fortier, who had two points over his first 21 games, scored a hat trick and added an assist in front of 5,817 at Copps Coliseum.
“I don’t know what I was waiting for, but it’s good timing,” Fortier said.
Hamilton’s Mathieu Carle had three assists while Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais continued streaks with two points apiece. Desharnais is on a 14-game point streak and Pacioretty has scored in four straight for the Bulldogs (16-7-4).
Joey Crabb had the lone goal for the Marlies (15-11-3), who were coming off a 7-4 win over the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday night.
“They’ve been playing well of late and it was nice to have that victory,” said Hamilton coach Randy Cunneyworth.
“It’s the kind of thing where you have to take advantage of these situations,” he added of Toronto’s short turnaround.
The Bulldogs scored three goals with the man advantage. Fortier found himself on the power-play unit with Desharnais and Pacioretty, a result of injuries to some key Hamilton players.
“It feels good, but Ben Maxwell and Ryan White are injured right now, they’re power-play guys so it gave me a chance and I took it tonight,” Fortier said.
It was a big switch for Fortier, who had spent some time on the fourth line of late and was also a healthy scratch at the start of the season.
“Our special teams have to be special, and tonight they certainly were,” Cunneyworth said.
Andrew Conboy had the other Hamilton goal.
The teams exchanged own goals early in the game.
Marlies centre Justin Hodgman shot the puck directly into his net after a goalmouth scramble. Later, Bulldogs centre Ryan Russell deflected a crossing attempt into the net that was meant for Christian Hanson.
“One of those unfortunate bounces. Maybe a little more room there and Rusty deflects it away,” Cunneyworth said.
Hamilton goalie Curtis Sanford made 34 saves.
“Our goaltender was very sharp tonight,” said Cunneyworth. “And our defence was really solid in front of him. We didn’t allow too much to get through.”
Jussi Rynnas also had 34 saves for the Marlies.
The first-place Bulldogs are now three points up on the Marlies in the North Division.