HAMILTON - The Toronto Marlies took advantage of a tired Hamilton Bulldogs team playing its third game in as many days to get back into the win column on Sunday.
Jerry D'Amigo scored the eventual winner into an empty net to lift the Marlies over the Bulldogs 3-2 in American Hockey League action.
The Marlies' win followed a 4-1 loss to the Rochester Americans in Toronto on Saturday.
"We had to get some retribution for yesterday, where we let a home game slip away," said Toronto head coach Steve Spott. "We wanted to come in here and let the schedule do us some favours.
"We knew that Hamilton had a tough trip from Utica last night, and we were able to take advantage of that."
Jerred Smithson and Greg McKegg chipped in with goals for the Marlies (5-3-0), and Drew MacIntyre made 20 saves.
Nick Tarnasky and Greg Pateryn scored for the Bulldogs (4-2-2), and Robert Mayer made 23 saves in a losing effort.
The Marlies wasted no time in opening the scoring, pouncing on a defensive zone giveaway by the Bulldogs just 24 seconds into the opening period.
Stuart Percy stole the puck and curled along the left boards before finding a streaking Smithson with a cross-ice pass. Smithson quickly corralled the puck in the low slot and chipped a wrist shot over the outstretched glove of Mayer.
Toronto continued to press as Hamilton found itself in penalty trouble in the first period.
The Marlies enjoyed a two-man advantage for 1:44 after Martin St. Pierre was whistled for boarding at 5:58, but Toronto ran into a bit of bad luck as they hit the post twice on the power play.
Hamilton's lack of discipline continued shortly after the 5-on-3 as Pateryn was whistled for high-sticking at 8:37 to send Toronto back on the power play.
McKegg doubled the Marlies' lead on the ensuing man advantage, receiving a pass from Josh Leivo just outside the goal crease and sliding a close-range shot inside Mayer's far post at 8:51 of the first period.
Spott was pleased with his team's bright start to the game, saying it helped ease some of the burden off its defenders.
"[The start] was good, and it took the heat off of us a little bit," he said. "We still could have had another goal or two because of our power play."
Sven Andrighetto had an opportunity to cut the Bulldogs' deficit in half, when a lead pass found him alone in the low slot six and half minutes into the second period. The winger shifted to his backhand side, but his shot slid just wide of MacIntyre's far post.
Andrighetto came close once again just minutes later, when Akim Aliu drove down the right wing and dropped a pass to the trailing winger. He had time and space as he skated into the low slot, but fired a wrist shot high and wide of MacIntyre's near post.
Tarnasky gave the Bulldogs a late glimmer of hope in the third period, cutting the deficit in half on the power play at 17:54. Nathan Beaulieu took a low slapshot from the point that MacIntyre saved but spilled into the slot, and Tarnasky corralled the rebound, moved to his backhand and slotted the puck past the sprawling goaltender.
D'Amigo responded for the Marlies to restore the two-goal lead at 18:48 of the period, slotting a low shot into the empty net with Mayer pulled for his first goal of the season.
Pateryn made the final seconds interesting as he snuck in from the point and snapped a high shot past MacIntyre to bring the Bulldogs within a goal with 18 seconds to play.
It ultimately fell just short, but Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre was encouraged by his team's spirited comeback attempt.
"I'm happy with the effort," said Lefebvre. "It's not human to play three games in less than three days. But I feel like the guys handled it pretty well, and found the energy to battle until the end and give us a chance to win."