ROCHESTER, N.Y. - For six games, the Hamilton Bulldogs got the best of low-scoring encounters.
Their luck ran out Saturday. Instead, Nathan Lieuwen kept his team within striking distance with 34 saves as the Rochester Americans defeated the Bulldogs 3-1 to end Hamilton's longest winning streak of the season.
"We need the killer instinct there to get the second goal," said Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre of his team's effort. "We let (Rochester) stay in the game too long, and we paid for it."
Johan Larsson scored the winner at 10:01 of the third period for the Americans (15-14-6), who avenged a loss to the Bulldogs on Friday, while Brandon MacLean and Luke Adam also scored.
Greg Pateryn had the lone goal for the Bulldogs (18-15-4), while Robert Mayer stopped 25 shots.
Saturday's game marked the first start for Mayer since returning to the Bulldogs from a loan spell with Swiss team Geneve-Servette, with whom he won the Spengler Cup.
His team eased him back into the role, playing a quality first period in which Mayer faced just five shots and was not seriously tested.
The Bulldogs enjoyed the majority of the offensive pressure in the first, and opened the scoring after MacLean was whistled for hooking at 9:42.
Just 16 seconds into the ensuing power play, Christian Thomas shifted the puck to Pateryn on the blue-line, and the defenceman released a low shot that passed through traffic and beat Lieuwen cleanly at the near post.
Hamilton appeared well in control of the game midway through the second period, until being pinned inside their zone for an extended shift. Desperate to clear the puck, Thomas instead lifted it over the glass and was called for delay of game at 13:18.
Pateryn downplayed the episode, and argued that his team had overcome similar situations this season.
"We've been able to handle some adversity through these last few games, and if we were playing well, we would have gotten out of that," he said. "Things like that happen sometimes, but you have to find a way to break out of it."
The Americans appeared to seize momentum and, while the Bulldogs successfully killed off the ensuing penalty, Rochester levelled game at a goal apiece at 16:36.
Mayer turned aside an initial rush led by American centre Kevin Sundher, but the loose puck bounced to Chad Ruhwedel in the high slot and his heavy slapshot was tipped in by MacLean at the far post.
The goal was MacLean's first in the AHL.
Hamilton was made to regret a missed opportunity midway through the third period, when Maxime Macenauer sprung a 2-on-1 rush with Louis Leblanc and elected to shoot, with Lieuwen knocking aside the attempt with his shoulder.
Seconds later, Rochester took the lead when Adam side-stepped a defender and slid a cross-ice pass to Larsson, who fired a low wrist shot past the sprawling Mayer and inside the near post at 10:01.
Adam added an insurance goal, and his second point of the period, into the empty net at 19:01.
Lefebvre argued that his team suffered from a disjointed game on Saturday, and hoped that his group would return to the cohesive style that had seen it win six previous games.
"It's been an overall team game for us during the streak, and I don't think we did that as well tonight," said Lefebvre. "We played very well for a very long time there, and we just have to remember what made us successful and get back at it again tomorrow."