HAMILTON, Ont. -- The Hamilton Bulldogs had enough fight left in them on Friday to take their second game in as many nights against the Toronto Marlies.
Hamilton fought back twice from a goal down, before riding a strong third period to 4-2 victory over Toronto in American Hockey League action.
"It shows character to fight back the way that we did," said Hamilton winger Sven Andrighetto. "You always want to play with the lead instead of chasing. But we showed what we can do tonight."
Mike Blunden scored twice for the Bulldogs (14-14-4) while Andrighetto and Martin St. Pierre added the others.
Dustin Tokarski made 20 saves in the win.
Carter Ashton and Sam Carrick scored for the Marlies (16-10-3), while Drew MacIntyre stopped 45 shots.
Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre had praise for MacIntyre, who faced 89 Hamilton shots over the course of the teams' home-and-home series on Thursday and Friday.
"The last two games have been full of scoring chances," said Lefebvre. "It was an enigma, trying to solve MacIntrye. But we kept shooting pucks at the net and kept driving it."
The first quality scoring chance of the night fell to the Bulldogs three minutes into the opening period, when Gabriel Dumont held the puck in the left circle and tested MacIntyre with a low wrist shot before chasing his own rebound.
It would be the Marlies who struck first, however, after Bulldog captain St. Pierre was whistled for charging at 4:59.
Toronto's Spencer Abbott shifted the puck to Greg McKegg, who found Ashton in the low slot with a centring pass. Ashton drifted out to the top of the slot, turned and fired a rising wrist shot that beat Tokarski just inside the near post at 6:27.
Hamilton used successful cycling to produce a tying goal early in the second period.
Dumont fought off a defender behind the net and circled out front, shovelling a backhanded shot along the ice that MacIntyre kicked to his left. But Blunden spotted the rebound as it slid through the crease, and quickly reacted to slot it in at 3:45.
Special teams were a difference-maker for Toronto once again as the Marlies counter-attacked on the penalty kill to retake the lead at 9:20.
Carrick latched onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and carried it into the Hamilton zone, where Blunden was the last line of defence. The Bulldog made an ill-advised attempt to hit Carrick, and the Marlie dodged him and skated in on Tokarski, flipping a high shot over the sliding goaltender.
Having been burned on the defensive end, Blunden redeemed himself in the offensive zone to level the game once more.
Maxime Macenauer carried the puck into the zone along the left wing, and spun to create space before sliding a backhanded shot toward MacIntyre. The goaltender turned aside the initial chance, but Blunden pounced on the loose puck to fire home his second goal of the night at 14:06.
Lefebvre was glad to see Blunden rewarded for his hard work.
"Blunden has been a horse for us all year so far," said the coach. "To see him get two goals tonight is great, because he's been working really hard and the goals don't come as naturally for him as they do for natural snipers.
"But he's been there and been killing penalties. He's been the forward that I've used the most and he's there every night banging and crashing the net."
The Bulldogs enjoyed a strong second period, and outshot the Marlies 34-14 through 40 minutes of play.
Hamilton's momentum carried into the third period, where the Bulldogs struck almost immediately to take their first lead of the game.
A stretch pass by Nathan Beaulieu sprung Patrick Holland and Andrighetto on a 2-on-1 break, with the former carrying the puck into the offensive zone and faking a shot before sliding a pass across to Andrighetto.
The rookie winger made no mistake, firing a high wrist shot over the shoulder of MacIntyre and just inside the crossbar at 1:38.
St. Pierre struck with 45 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach. With the Bulldogs cycling the puck on the power play, Andrighetto threaded a short pass to St. Pierre along the right boards. He faked and then fired a low slapshot that beat MacIntyre through traffic.
Hamilton defeated Toronto 2-1 in a shootout on Sunday and lead the season series 5-2-1.