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Holland scores twice in return as Bulldogs beat Monsters 4-1 @NHLdotcom

HAMILTON - Patrick Holland scored twice in his return to the lineup as the Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Lake Erie Monsters 4-1 in the American Hockey League Saturday.

Mike Blunden had a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs (10-9-3) and Joonas Nattinen also scored. Dustin Tokarski made 27 saves.

Paul Carey scored the lone goal for the Monsters (10-9-1) and Sami Aittokallio stopped 24 shots.

Holland made his return for Hamilton after missing nine games due to injury.

His first goal of the night came at the end of a pin-point passing play to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 3-1 at 9:01 of the third period.

With Hamilton breaking into the zone on a 3-on-1 rush, Martin St. Pierre dropped the puck for Christian Thomas, and the winger slid a centring pass to Holland on the left. He did the rest, kneeling to meet the puck with a one-time shot that beat Aittokallio just inside his near post.

That same line struck again three minutes later with Holland providing a highlight reel finish.

Thomas backed off his defender and sent a pass to the winger, who controlled the puck, dropped to one knee and launched a heavy wrist shot off Aittokallio's crossbar and in.

Though his goals would come in the third, Holland nearly made an early impression on the scoreboard much earlier.

The Hamilton winger drifted into the slot, and tipped a low shot from the blue line just wide of Aitokallio's far post four minutes into the opening period.

Lake Erie was getting the better of play with Hamilton finding itself in early penalty trouble, and opened the scoring soon after the Bulldogs' third successful penalty kill of the period.

With a Bulldog rushing out to meet him, Russ Sinkewich spun and passed to Guillaume Desbiens along the boards. Desbiens quickly dealt a centring pass to a streaking Carey. He fired a low wrist shot on the move that beat Tokarski just inside his far post at 17:42 of the first.

Hamilton responded immediately, evening the game at a goal apiece at 19:03 when Nattinen took possession of the puck behind the goal line and moved out front before shovelling a low shot past Aitokallio at his far post.

A second goal followed just 18 seconds later as Blunden walked out to the low slot, fought off two defenders and swept a contested shot past Aitokallio.

Lake Erie nearly found an equalizing goal in the opening minutes of the second period, as Joey Hishon stole the puck from Hamilton's Schiestel at the blue line and skated in on a breakaway. But his attempt to slot the puck past Tokarski from close range hit the side of the net.

The Bulldogs relied on their penalty kill to see them through much of the second period without incident, until finding their own offence in the final five minutes.

Moving the puck well inside Lake Erie's zone, Hamilton had several opportunities to extend its lead before the period's end, but could not convert any of them.

The last of those came mere seconds before the intermission, as Aitokallio kicked Greg Pateryn's point shot into the slot and three Bulldogs unsuccessfully jammed at the loose puck.

Hamilton was 0 for 5 on the power play, however a perfect 8 for 8 on the penalty kill.

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