TORONTO – Gabriel Dumont scored with 68 seconds remaining and Curtis Sanford made 28 saves to lift the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs over the Toronto Marlies 3-1 in American Hockey League action Sunday.
Max Pacioretty scored for his fourth goal in two games and J.T. Wyman added an empty-netter as the Bulldogs earned a split in back-to-back weekend games against Toronto.
“From the forwards to the defence, that was a gutsy performance to be proud of,” said Bulldogs coach Randy Cunneyworth. “It was an exciting game and we rose to the occasion. That’s one to be proud of, one to build on.”
The Bulldogs improved to 12-3-3 on the season and sit in first place in the North Division.
“We’re getting something out of every game,” Cunneyworth said. “We’re picking up points in road games and that’s difficult in this league.”
Dumont deposited a rebound past Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas just seconds after Sanford had stopped Toronto’s Greg Scott on a breakaway. Sanford then made a couple more saves on Jay Rosehill as the Marlies winger whacked away in front.
“I saw the puck bobbling on their blue-line, so I knew they had a chance for a break, and they did,” said Sanford. “I’m glad I was aware and ready for it when it happened.
“It was a huge lift when Dumont scored. It was a hard game, a playoff atmosphere type of game.”
Brayden Irwin provided the lone tally for Toronto in front of 5,624 fans at Ricoh Coliseum—and a national TV audience on CBC—as the Marlies fell to 9-8-3 on the season.
Pacioretty had a natural hat trick and also scored in the shootout as he celebrated his 22nd birthday on Saturday, but the Marlies spoiled the party by beating Hamilton 4-3. The Bulldogs left winger has collected seven points in his past three games and has eight goals and 21 points in 18 AHL games this season.
Sanford was sharp throughout the game for the Bulldogs. He also stopped Toronto’s Christian Hanson on a short-handed breakaway early in the first period and made a flashy glove save in the opening minute of the second period.
Rynnas, who received the AHL player of the week award before the game, made 21 saves in a losing effort.
The game was scoreless after the first period and the Bulldogs led 1-0 through 40 minutes despite being limited to 12 shots.
Pacioretty opened the scoring when he broke down the left wing and fired a wrist shot over Rynnas’ glove just 31 seconds into the second period.
Hamilton went 0-for-5 on the power play while Toronto was 0-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Marlies host the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday, while the Bulldogs travel to Adirondack to play the Phantoms.