TORONTO (CP) - Brad Leeb scored the shootout winner to
lift the Toronto Marlies over the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 in American Hockey League play on Saturday night.
Chris Harrington and Tyson Nash also scored for the Marlies as they beat their provincial rivals in front of 6,930 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
Nash's goal came with less than five minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, after the Bulldogs had scored two third-period power-play goals to rally for a 2-1 lead.
The Marlies (27-35-6) have won three of their past four games and a season-high four straight at home.
However, it will likely be too little, too late as the Marlies are in last place in the North Division and all but eliminated from the post-season.
Mathieu Biron and Eric Manlow replied for Hamilton (38-24-8).
Marlies netminder Jean-Francois Racine made 30 saves on 32 shots for the victory.
At the other end, Yann Danis stopped 31 shots.
It was Racine's first start since being pulled early in a 6-2 loss at Manitoba on March 3. Racine, making just his third appearance in the past 17 games, recorded his last victory on Feb. 3, a 3-1 win over Springfield.
The game also marked the return to action of Marlies defenceman Karel Pilar. Pilar played 90 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2001-04 - and another 52 with Sparta Praha (Czech League) during the 2004-05 lockout - but missed nearly all of 2005-06 with a heart ailment, which kept him off the ice this season, too.
Pilar, who was paired mostly with veteran captain Marc Moro as Toronto dressed seven defenceman, looked sharp in his return, even seeing time on the power play. He did, however, take a hooking penalty in the third period that led to Hamilton's first goal.
The Bulldogs were 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Marlies went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Both teams had extended 5-on-3 opportunities in the first period, but failed to convert. The Bulldogs had a two-man advantage for 1:42 in the middle of the opening frame - with Marlies defenceman Dominic D'Amour and Nash in the penalty box - and kept the puck in the offensive zone the entire time, with good movement and several shots, but couldn't beat Racine.
A couple minutes later, the Marlies went up by two men as Bulldogs defenders Biron and Ryan O'Byrne were whistled for infractions 37 seconds apart. Marlies centre Alexander Suglobov hit the left goal post early in the power play, but that's as close as Toronto would come.
The Marlies opened the scoring late in the second period, with Hamilton defenceman Jancevski in the penalty box, when Harrington's one-time blast from the point beat Danis low on the blocker side at 16:54.
Biron and Jancevski scored power-play goals less than three minutes apart in the third period as Hamilton took a 2-1 lead, but Nash tied it up at 15:36 when he knocked a rebound past Danis during a goal-mouth scramble.
Suglobov earned an assist on the play to extend his point streak to four games (one goal, six points).