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Granlund scores shootout winner as Heat beat Bulldogs

The Canadian Press
12/22/2013 7:07:08 PM
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HAMILTON - The Abbotsford Heat twice battled back from a goal behind on Sunday, before finally edging ahead in the shootout.

Markus Granlund scored the shootout winner as the Heat defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 in the American Hockey League.

"It was tough on us, losing the last few games, and with this being our last game before Christmas we will definitely take the win," said Granlund.

Dean Arsene and Ben Hanowski had goals for the Heat (21-9-2), while Joni Ortio stopped 32 shots.

The win ended a three-game losing streak for Abbotsford.

Joonas Nattinen had a goal and an assist, and Joel Chouinard also scored for the Bulldogs (12-14-4). Dustin Tokarski made 39 saves.

Hamilton has now lost five consecutive games.

"We have to bring those points home," said Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre. "It's disappointing.

"Abbotsford is a good team, and they're not in first place in our conference for nothing. They're a team that battles and competes."

Granlund scored on Abbotsford's second attempt of the shootout, while Corban Knight added a goal on the fourth attempt.

Ortio stopped all four Hamilton shots.

A penalty to Hamilton's Mike Blunden just 49 seconds into the first period put the Bulldogs on their heels, and the hosts struggled to exit their defensive zone early in the period.

It took Hamilton nearly seven minutes to register its first shot, but the Bulldogs began to manufacture offensive pressure with the trio of Nattinen, Justin Courtnall and Stefan Fournier establishing a cycle midway through the period.

The Heat forced several tough saves from Bulldogs goaltender Tokarski, with the sharpest of those coming with four and a half minutes to play in the period. Abbotsford broke into the offensive zone through the right wing, and Tokarski denied a low slap shot intended for his far post and smothered the loose puck.

The goaltender turned aside all 13 shots he faced in the first period, while his counterpart Ortio successfully stopped nine.

Hamilton capitalized on offensive pressure in the aftermath of a power play to open the scoring at 4:35 of the second period.

Morgan Ellis took a low slap shot from the point that bounced to Fournier in the low slot, and he tipped it ahead to Nattinen. The centre moved to his backhand and slotted the puck past a diving Ortio.

As Abbotsford chased an equalizer, it was Blunden who nearly doubled Hamilton's lead a minute and a half later when Martin St. Pierre found him with a cross-ice pass and the winger fired a rising wrist shot that Ortio knocked to the corner with his shoulder.

The Heat found the tying goal on a seemingly harmless play, as Arsene took a long-range wrist shot that eluded Tokarski and clipped his far post as it crossed the goal line at 9:56 of the second period.

Arsene's goal was his first of the season.

Hamilton re-established a lead at 11:18 of the second period, when another defenceman, Chouinard, scored his first goal of the season.

Jordan Owens found Nattinen in the high slot with a centring pass, and the forward responded to defensive pressure with a drop pass to Chouinard at the blue-line. The defenceman fired a low slap shot that moved through traffic and beat the screened Ortio.

The Heat struck early in the third period to level the game once again, as Hanowski pounced on a rebound to score at 4:47.

Tokarski reacted well to stop Josh Jooris' initial shot with his left pad, but Hanowski beat the Bulldogs' defenders to the rebound and chipped it high and past the downed goaltender.

The play was wide open and frantic in the final minutes of the third period as both teams searched for a winning goal.

Tokarski made two exceptional saves before the period came to a close, and denied Sven Baertschi from close range without a stick with 23 seconds to play.

Lefebvre was not content with his team's loose play in the period that repeatedly forced Tokarski into action.

"That's not the style that we want to play," he said. "We got stuck in our own zone on a few long shifts, and (Abbotsford) got a few good scoring chances. That's where Tokarski had to be good, and he gave us a chance to win the game tonight."

Abbotsford enjoyed a minute and a half of 4-on-3 power-play time to open the overtime period, but could not find a way past Tokarski.

Abbotsford Heat (Photo: TSN)


(Photo: TSN)
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