Behind a three-point effort (1-2-3) from Aaron Palushaj and a 30-save shutout by goaltender Curtis Sanford, the Hamilton Bulldogs eliminated Abbotsford with a 4-0 win over the Heat on Monday in Game 6 of the North Division Finals.
With the victory, the Bulldogs advance to their fourth conference finals in nine years and their first since winning the 2007 Calder Cup title.
The Western Conference Finals will begin in Hamilton either Thursday vs. Chicago or Friday vs. Texas. Those two teams will meet in Game 7 of the West Division Finals on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Hamilton scored once in the first period and three more times in the third en route to Monday’s victory. David Desharnais notched his sixth of the playoffs with 1:30 to play in the opening frame to put the ‘Dogs up 1-0, and that score held through to the early stages of the third period.
Palushaj, who assisted on the Desharnais marker, tallied an insurance marker 6:14 into the third stanza, and Brock Trotter put the dagger in the Heat with a power play marker at 17:31.
Mike Glumac added his team-best eighth goal of the playoffs into an empty net with 1:17 left in the game, sealing Hamilton’s victory.
Palushaj had totaled only two points (1-1-2) in the series prior to his three-point performance on Monday. It marked the 20-year-old’s second three-point showing of the playoffs, following a three-assist effort on Apr. 21 at Manitoba.
The Heat, who went 3-0 in elimination games during the first-round ouster of Rochester, were shut out for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the Bulldogs on Mar. 27.
Sanford, who also earned the win in Saturday's Game 5 in his first appearance since leaving that Mar. 27 contest due to injury, secured his first shutout of the playoffs after recording four whitewashes during the regular season.
North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Abbotsford Heat
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 29 – Abbotsford 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 2 – HAMILTON 3, Abbotsford 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 4 – Hamilton 3, ABBOTSFORD 2
Game 4 – Thu., May 6 – ABBOTSFORD 4, Hamilton 1
Game 5 – Sat., May 8 – Hamilton 5, ABBOTSFORD 2
Game 6 – Mon., May 10 – HAMILTON 4, Abbotsford 0