HAMILTON, Ont. -- A strange play in the final minute decided a game that seemed destined for overtime.
Gabriel Dumont scored the winner with 48 seconds left to play as the Hamilton Bulldogs edged the Toronto Marlies 2-1 on Tuesday in American Hockey League action.
None of the Bulldogs seemed to comprehend how the goal had gone in, but teammate Patrick Holland suggested that wacky goals are part and parcel of Dumont's game.
"He's greasy like that," said Holland with a laugh. "It's typical of him for sure. We even tell him to shoot from there all of the time because he has a knack for tricking goalies.
"It's tough to stop something like that."
Holland also scored for the Bulldogs (13-18-4), while Robert Mayer stopped 23 of 24 shots for the win.
Nazem Kadri had the only goal for the Marlies (21-10-3) and Jussi Rynnas made 36 saves.
With time winding down in the third, Dumont released a speculative wrist shot toward Rynnas that hit a Toronto defender and fluttered into the air. The startled Marlies goalie could only watch as the puck floated over his shoulder and into the net.
"I heard the crowd yelling and I just put it on net," Dumont explained. "I think it went off of their goalie and went in but I didn't really see what happened. I lost it when it went up in the air."
Toronto could not recover with just 48 seconds left in the game.
Mayer was busy to open the game, and produced a crisp pad save from close range to deny Marlies winger Jerry D'Amigo in the slot five minutes into the game.
The visitors continued to press as Hamilton's Morgan Ellis was whistled for hooking at 4:51. Mike Kostka found the far post with a slapshot from the point, before his teammates hit the opposite post over the course of the power play with Mayer scrambling hopelessly in the crease.
Rynnas was forced to deal with a flurry of his own in the final minute of the first. The Bulldogs cycled down low before the puck came to the front of the net and Patrick Holland fired a quick snapshot from the slot that Rynnas tipped to safety with his right pad.
A quiet start to the second yielded very few scoring chances at either end of the ice, but Mayer was the first goaltender to be seriously challenged eight minutes into the period.
A Hamilton defender lost control of the puck behind his net and the puck slipped out to Deschamps, who drove wide on Mayer and forced a sliding save along the ice.
The Hamilton goalie had done admirably to preserve the deadlock to that point, but Toronto was not to be denied for long.
Kadri gave the Marlies a 1-0 lead at 9:18 of the second, firing an off-balance wrist shot from the top of the left circle that saw its way through traffic and past the unsuspecting Mayer at the near post.
The Bulldogs threatened while on a power play to conclude the second, after Deschamps was whistled for roughing at 17:56. Hamilton set up the cycle behind the Toronto net, before finding Holland at the left circle with a cross-ice pass. The winger released a quick, one-time shot but Rynnas slid alertly to smother it.
Holland was given one more opportunity to score in the dying seconds of the second and made it count.
A broken play in front of Rynnas led Mike Blunden to weakly push the puck across the crease, where it sat as Holland broke in from the point. The winger completed the easy tap into an empty net to tie the game with less than a second left on the clock.
"I didn't know how much time there was on the clock, but I knew that there wasn't much," said Holland. "We sort of lost the play and I was on my butt at the time and just slowly made my way to the net, watching.
"The puck just came right to me because I was lazy I guess."
The Marlies' Joe Colborne missed a golden opportunity to take the lead as Toronto enjoyed a power play midway through the third.
The Bulldogs took a bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice at 8:51, and the Marlies immediately moved to pounce. A precise, cross-ice pass from the point found Colborne alone at Mayer's far post, but the centre could not take the puck cleanly and it bounced over his stick.