HAMILTON, Ont. - The Hamilton Bulldogs are headed to a conference final for the fifth time in franchise history after beating the Abbotsford Heat 4-0 on Monday night to capture the North Division final in six games.
David Desharnais and Aaron Palushaj each had a goal and an assist for Hamilton, while Curtis Sanford stopped 30 shots to earn his first shutout of the post-season.
Desharnais scored the game's first goal with 1:30 left in the first period when he was the first of a hoard of players to find a loose puck in the Abbotsford crease. He whacked the puck between Heat goalie David Shantz's pads.
Desharnais set up the Bulldogs' second goal six minutes into the third period, intercepting a lobbed Abbotsford pass with his glove before passing off to Palushaj between the hash marks. Palushaj fired a perfect backhand that beat Shantz on his glove side.
Trotter added Hamilton's third goal late in the third period on the power play with a slapshot from the side boards that fooled Shantz. Palushaj earned an assist on the play.
Andre Benoit added an empty-netter for the Bulldogs.
Sanford, who started in place of Cedrick Desjardins in Game 5, made his second-straight start between the pipes for Hamilton. He stymied the Heat offence, which was unable to score on five attempts, including a four-minute power play in the second period stemming from a Gabriel Dumont double minor for high sticking.
Hamilton will face the winner of Tuesday night's Texas Stars-Chicago Wolves Game 7 in the Western Conference final.
NOTES: Abbotsford defenceman Staffan Kronwall, who was injured in Game 2, made the trip to Hamilton but did not dress for Game 6.