HAMILTON – After a couple of failed attempts, the Hamilton Bulldogs finally found a way to beat the Manitoba Moose in a shootout.
Aaron Palushaj had a goal and two assists in regulation and also scored in the shootout as the Bulldogs beat the Moose 5-4 in American Hockey League action Wednesday.
Ryan Russell and Alexander Avtsin also scored shootout goals for Hamilton, while Marco Rosa replied for Manitoba. Hamilton goaltender Robert Mayer snared Jeff Tambellini’s in the fourth round to clinch the win for the Bulldogs (6-1-3).
The Moose beat the Bulldogs twice in shootouts at home earlier in the season, something that was quite apparent to some Hamilton players.
“In the back of our minds we lost to those guys over there twice in shootouts… some of the guys I’m sure were saying ‘Hey, lets not get this thing into a shootout,'” Palushaj said.
Hamilton head coach Randy Cunneyworth also had his doubts.
“Going to the shootout there, getting it that far, I was wondering if we were going to be able to take it, with their success they had in Manitoba,” Cunneyworth said. “We certainly found our shootout edge.”
Hamilton’s Mathieu Carle scored in the third period to send the game to overtime. Carle walked in from the point and fired a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle that barely passed between Moose goaltender Tyler Weiman’s legs.
Yannick Webber had a chance to win it late in regulation as his point shot beat Weiman but hit the post.
“The heat got turned up,” Manitoba coach Claude Noel said. “They played better and took it to us. We defended way too much, they won battles and we didn’t win enough of them.”
Cunneyworth sent out three forwards and a defenceman in the 4-on-4 overtime trying to end the game before a shootout.
“I wanted to see if we could get some offence going,” Cunneyworth said. “It almost backfired.”
Russell and Max Pacioretty had the other regulation goals for Hamilton, which beat Manitoba for the second time in two nights.
Bill Sweatt had two goals and an assist for the Moose (5-5-1), while Tommy Maxwell and Noel Baumgartner also scored.
Despite the loss, the Moose seemed to find some of their missing offence. Manitoba had only scored three goals in three games entering Wednesday’s match. They averaged only 22 shots per game over that span.
The addition of Jeff Tambellini, who was sent down from the Vancouver Canucks, seemed to help.
“Tambellini helped us create offence but we just needed better play from better players,” Noel said. “Bill Sweatt gave us two goals, the Hodgson line was good for us, we just needed better play.”
Manitoba’s winless streak reached four games while Hamilton has not lost in regulation in its last seven.
“Everything was going the right way because we were making the simple, smart plays,” Palushaj said.