Bulldogs make it three in a row with a win over Crunch

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The Canadian Press
11/22/2013 10:15:38 PM
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MONTREAL -- The Hamilton Bulldogs' second line had it going Friday night.

Michael Blunden scored twice and Gabriel Dumont added another as the Bulldogs defeated the Syracuse Crunch 4-1 in American Hockey League action in front of 8,002 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

"We've been working well since we've been put together," said Blunden of Dumont and Justin Courtnall, his third linemate. "I really enjoy our line. We just have to keep going.

"We're playing good hockey right now. We're scoring goals. Things are good right now. Justin and Gabe (Dumont) just work their butts off."

Blunden's line was responsible for three of four goals, and five total points.

"It's been good since the beginning of the year," said Dumont, who scored his first goal of the year mid-way through the second period.

"Tonight, the puck went in for our line. We always play well, especially recently. We're playing solidly."

Blunden scored late in the first period after a couple of beautiful manoeuvres from Dumont and the 26-year-old forward returned the favour in the third, feeding Dumont to make the score 3-0 at that point.

Bulldogs (8-7-3) head coach Sylvain Lefebvre played his second line against Syracuse's top line, which includes NHL-calibre players Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov, and was pleased with the result.

"They're doing the job," said Lefebvre. "Dumont scored, Blunden got two goals. Their line is playing good, solid, physical hockey - really good hockey. All in all, it was a great night.

"(Dumont) has had a lot of scoring chances since the start of the season. Scoring his first of the season was a weight lifted off his shoulders I'm sure."

Goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 25 saves on 26 shots for Hamilton.

Syracuse's (9-5-2) Jean-Philippe Cote ruined Tokarski's shutout bid late in the third period.

Tokarski now has a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.

The Bulldogs opened the scoring when Blunden put his fourth of the year over Crunch goaltender Cedrick Desjardins' shoulder at 15:55 of the first.

Dumont was instrumental on the play, dodging a hit along the boards and skillfully avoiding a sprawling Luke Witkowksi in front of the net before feeding the puck to Blunden.

"We practice 2-on-1's pretty often," said Dumont of the play. "I knew he was going to post up there. I just saw him out there. I knew if I had (Witkowski) beat, when he dove, that if I just left it there for him, he was going to score."

Morgan Ellis doubled Hamilton's lead when his slap shot from the blue line beat Desjardins at 11:00 of the second period. It was also his first of the year.

The Bulldogs kept pressing and scored again two minutes later on another 2-on-1 when Blunden unselfishly dished the puck to a wide-open Dumont.

Syracuse defenceman Cote, who played five seasons with Hamilton and eight career NHL games with the Canadiens in 2005, scored a consolation goal for the Crunch at 15:13 of the third period.

Blunden added an empty-netter.

With the win, the Bulldogs extended their win streak to three games and jumped to 8th in the Western Conference with 19 points.

Syracuse and Hamilton face off again Saturday night at the War Memorial Arena in New York.

Notes: Hamilton leading-scorer Sven Andrighetto is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and did not face the Crunch. a Syracuse beat Hamilton 4-1 at the Bell Centre last season in front of 18,582 fans.

Hamilton Bulldogs (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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