HAMILTON - Playing their third game in as many days, the Hamilton Bulldogs salvaged their weekend with an energetic, 60-minute effort on Sunday.
Martin St. Pierre scored two goals, including the game winner in the second period, as the Bulldogs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage in the American Hockey League.
"Travelling has been hectic this weekend, but we're not a team that makes excuses," said St. Pierre. "If we lose while we're working hard, we'll take the loss. We felt that we played well this weekend and just didn't get the bounces.
"We knew that it has to be mind over matter when you have three games over two and a half days."
Mike Blunden also had a goal for the Bulldogs (23-25-5) and Dustin Tokarski made 32 saves.
Quinton Howden scored the lone goal for the Rampage (23-23-8), while Jacob Markstrom stopped 28 shots in a losing effort.
Hamilton got off to a promising start, challenging Markstrom early and often in the first period.
Offensive pressure paid dividends when the Bulldogs opened the scoring through their captain at 7:25.
Greg Pateryn carried the puck in from the blue line and released a low, hard shot toward the far post that Markstrom kicked into St. Pierre's path as he streaked in from the left wing. St. Pierre reacted quickly and fired the puck past the sprawling goaltender before he could recover his position.
The Bulldogs' lead nearly doubled three minutes later, when Sven Andrighetto threaded a centring pass through the San Antonio defence that found Maxime Macenauer in the low slot. But Markstrom slid to his right and snared the centre's ensuing wrist shot with his glove.
Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre was encouraged by his team's strong start, and argued that it had become a recent trend.
"The one thing that stood out this weekend was that we started all three games very strongly," said Lefebvre. "Tonight, we stuck with it and kept going."
A bright first period was dimmed somewhat when the Bulldogs were assessed two minor penalties at the same stoppage of play at 19:26, as Gabriel Dumont was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after arguing a slashing penalty to Blunden.
The exchange meant that Hamilton would have to survive 1:11 of 5-on-3 hockey early in the second period.
Those penalties passed without incident, but the Rampage made the most of their next power-play opportunity when Louis Leblanc was whistled for hooking at 7:10 of the second period.
Tokarski knocked aside Ryan Martindale's initial shot from the slot with his blocking glove, but the forward recovered his rebound and chipped a quick shot that Howden tipped past the goaltender at 8:06.
Markstrom was tested several times as the Bulldogs pushed for a second goal, and came up with consecutive saves to deny St. Pierre and Sven Andrighetto in quick succession midway through the period.
But there was little that he could do to prevent the eventual breakthrough, as Nathan Beaulieu's point shot rebounded high into the air, and St. Pierre was waiting as it dropped to slide it past the goaltender at the near post at 12:15.
The Bulldogs added some insurance on the power play at 6:29 of the third period.
Markstrom turned aside Nick Tarnasky's initial shot, but Mike Blunden was posted in the low slot and corralled the rebound, easily slotting it past the goaltender.
Hamilton successfully crowded Markstrom's crease on Sunday, and Lefebvre stated that the Bulldogs will have to continue that tactic in the future.
"We need to do that," he said. "We don't score too many highlight-reel goals. We grind them out, and that's our trademark. That's who we are.
"Some nights we don't want to pay the price as much and it shows. But this weekend we did, and we competed all weekend."
The Bulldogs went 1-4 with the man advantage, while the Rampage were 1-3.
Note: The Montreal Canadiens announced the call up of Hamilton defenceman Jarred Tinordi midway through Sunday's game.