HAMILTON, Ont. - Kris Chucko and Jason Jaffray scored in a shootout and the Abbotsford Heat grinded out a 2-1 win against the Hamilton Bulldogs in American Hockey League action on Friday night.
Heat leading scorer Mikael Backlund scored in regulation for Abbotsford, while Tom Pyatt scored for the Bulldogs.
Curtis Sanford was superb in net for Bulldogs, making 34 saves in regulation, but he couldn't repeat his heroics in the shootout.
Heading into Friday's game, Sanford had a 0.949 save percentage and 1.28 goals against average.
Abbotsford goalie Leland Irving, a first-round pick for the Calgary Flames in the 2006 draft, proved tough for the Bulldogs to solve.
He stopped 30 shots plus all four of Hamilton's shootout attempts to earn his fifth win of the season.
Hamilton is still the only team in the AHL without a regulation loss, going 6-0-4 over its first 10 games.
The game was a physical affair, with plenty of hits and skirmishes, plus two fights. Hamilton forward Andrew Conboy scrapped with Abbotsford winger J.D. Watt in the first period, while Abbotsford centre Jamie Lundmark dropped the gloves with Hamilton centre Ryan White in the second.
Hamilton remains in third place in the North Division and Abbotsford (6-4-2-1) remains in fourth.
Pyatt opened the scoring with 3.6 seconds left in the first period. After the Bulldogs killed off a Heat power play, defenceman Shawn Belle fed Pyatt with a breakaway pass. Irving attempted a poke-check, but the winger danced around Irving and put the puck into an empty net.
Abbotsford answered with 44 seconds left in the second period. Backlund beat Sanford from the slot for his fifth goal of the year.
The match marked the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Heat since the Calgary Flames' farm team moved from Illinois to Abbotsford, B.C. this season. The North Division rivals will play each other seven more times this season.
The Bulldogs have a six-day break before their next game, against the Binghamton Senators at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Heat will face what will likely be a tired Lake Erie Monsters team on Sunday afternoon - it will be Lake Erie's third match in three days.
More than 4,000 fans turned out to Copps Coliseum to watch the game.
NOTES: Disgruntled Bulldog Sergei Kostitsyn was largely unnoticeable despite lots of ice time. He did not manage any shots on goal during the game, and spoiled a chance to redeem himself in the shootout when he hit the crossbar.
Swedish centre Mikhael Johansson made his home debut for the Bulldogs after missing the start of the season with a groin injury. He signed with the Montreal Canadiens in May after playing four seasons with Farjestads of the Swedish Elite League, and played his first game against Houston on Tuesday.