HAMILTON - Louis Leblanc scored in overtime to cap a three-point night as the Hamilton Bulldogs overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the Rockford IceHogs 5-4 on Tuesday in American Hockey League action.
Sven Andrighetto had two goals for the Bulldogs (2-1-2), while Nick Tarnasky and Akim Aliu also scored. Dustin Tokarski made 24 saves in the win.
Mark McNeill scored twice for the IceHogs (4-2-1), while Garret Ross and Terry Broadhurst also scored. Kent Simpson made 31 saves for Rockford.
Leblanc completed the comeback for the Bulldogs at 1:03 of the overtime period, crashing the net after Gabriel Dumont's initial chance to chip a close-range shot over the sprawled Simpson.
Hamilton endured a nightmare start to the night, conceding the opening goal just 31 seconds into the first period.
McNeill held the puck along the left boards and found Ross unguarded in the low slot with a centring pass. Ross bent low and one-timed the pass high and over the shoulder of Tokarski to open the scoring.
The IceHogs enjoyed sustained offensive pressure for much of the first period, with Hamilton being out-skated and routinely out-worked along the boards. The run of play was against them, but the Bulldogs struck next to level the game.
A power play passed unsuccessfully, but Hamilton carried the momentum of the man advantage into five-on-five play.
Leblanc skated the puck to the left circle and curled to protect it, sliding a pass to Tarnasky as he streaked toward the net. Tarnasky held and wound up a slapshot that eluded Simpson at 15:37 of the first.
Hamilton began the second period well, and nearly took the lead when Erik Nystrom was sent in on a breakaway four minutes in. Duffy could only slide a weak wrist shot into the pads of Simpson, however.
The Bulldogs continued to pressure, and Sven Andrighetto came closest to scoring when his heavy wrist shot clipped the crossbar and bounced clear six minutes into the period.
Hamilton was punished for its inability to finish chances when Rockford produced a beautiful passing play to take the lead at 14:29.
Pat Mullane carried the puck over the blue-line down the right wing and shifted it back to Jimmy Hayes in the middle. Hayes lightly flicked the puck through his legs and on to Broadhurst on the left, who deked wide and chipped a shot over the shoulder of Tokarski to make it 2-1 for the IceHogs.
Successive penalties in the opening minutes of the third period saw the two teams play three-on-three for nearly a minute before Rockford gained the man advantage when Ross' penalty expired at 3:05.
It was Hamilton, however, that struck on the penalty kill to level the game 2-2 at 3:18 of the third.
Andrighetto carried the puck over the blue-line on a lone rush and let loose a heavy slapshot from the top of the left circle that clipped the crossbar on its way past Simpson.
The IceHogs retook the lead while on the power play at 7:46 of the third period.
Broadhurst received a pass along the red-line, spun and found McNeill with a centring pass that the forward quickly shovelled past Tokarski.
McNeill struck again at 16:05 to add a measure of insurance for the IceHogs, receiving a drop pass from Phillip Danault and taking a low slap shot from the top of the circle that eluded Tokarski to make it 4-2.
Andrighetto brought the host Bulldogs back within a goal at 17:32, when a loose centring pass slid to him just inside the blue-line, and he easily fired the puck past Simpson while the goaltender was out of position.
Aliu then scored with 19 seconds left in the third period to force overtime and setup Leblanc's heroics.