TORONTO - Hamilton Bulldogs backup goalie Robert Mayer knew he had nothing to lose when he entered Monday's game down 3-0 to the Toronto Marlies.
Mayer replaced starter Nathan Lawson, who gave up three goals on five shots in the game's first six minutes, and was perfect the rest of the way as the Bulldogs stormed back to defeat Toronto 6-3 in American Hockey League play at Air Canada Centre.
Mayer made 29 saves and Bulldogs scored four times in the second and twice more in the third to upset the North Division leading Marlies.
"Mayer was the difference because he kept us in the game in the first period," Bulldogs head coach Clement Jodoin said. "He made three great saves. It could have been 4-0 or 5-0 for them."
Olivier Fortier, with two, Ian Schultz, Phil DeSimone, Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist, into an empty net, scored for Hamilton (12-13-4).
Jerry D'Amigo, Joe Colborne and Ryan Hamilton had the goals for Toronto (16-11-4). Ben Scrivens made 24 saves.
The game was played at Air Canada Centre after the Marlies were forced out of Ricoh Coliseum because of the Cirque du Soleil show. The crowd of 13,238 was the highest to take in a Marlies game this season and most went home disappointed.
It started well for Toronto as D'Amigo scored just a minute and a half in after taking a cross-ice pass from Luca Caputi.
After Engqvist took a delay of game penalty, Toronto added to the lead. Greg Scott found Colborne in front and he buried a rebound past Lawson.
"I thought we played so well in the first period. We were dictating the game, we were dominating the game," Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said.
Hamilton was in the right place to bang in a rebound at 5:19 to make it 3-0 and end Lawson's night. He finished with just two saves on five shots.
Luck did help in Meyer's performance. The first shot he faced came from Matt Caruana, who hit the post.
"I was lucky, that first shot hit the post. I just tried my best," said the Czech-born Mayer. "I had nothing to lose but it came out good."
The Bulldogs found their legs in the second and got on the board just two and a half minutes in. Fortier let a wrist shot go from the right side that eluded Scrivens and tucked in under the crossbar.
"I think they thought that Hamilton was going to roll over and die," Eakins said. "These games are 60 minutes long and Hamilton did not roll over and die. We got a rude awakening with the quick goals that they scored."
The Bulldogs' second came less than three minutes later at 5:19 when Mitch Wahl found Schultz through the middle. He went high on Scrivens for his second of the season.
Seconds after the restart, Marlies defenceman Jeff Finger caused a melee after hitting Hamilton's Zack Fitzgerald from behind. Finger was given five minutes for boarding and a game misconduct.
The equalizer came on the resulting power play. After Toronto couldn't clear the zone, the puck found its way to Fortier, who tied the score 3-3.
"I didn't have to panic but I was mad about the way we came out. But after that, they did regroup," said Jodoin, whose team hadn't played in eight days coming in.
Hamilton took its first lead with 4:30 left in the period. Palushaj was given room to get to the front of the net and he beat Scrivens with a backhander.
DeSimone added a power-play goal in the third before Engqvist scored into an empty net.