HAMILTON - Calvin Pickard frustrated the Hamilton Bulldogs for more than 56 minutes on Tuesday night, but Steve Quailer finally found a way through.
The Bulldogs winger scored the game's only goal with under four minutes to go in regulation and Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 28 shots he faced as Hamilton shut out the Lake Erie Monsters 1-0 in the American Hockey League.
"We played hard all game," Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre said. "We had some good scoring chances, and that was probably the most scoring chances that we've had in a game in a while.
"Their goalie was really good tonight, and I just kept telling the boys to stay with it and that it would come."
Quailer broke the scoreless tie at 16:17 of the final period with an eye-catching individual effort. He held possession over the blue-line and down the right side before deking a defender, shielding the puck and shovelling it past Pickard from in tight.
"The defenceman made a good play and jammed my stick but the goalie followed me and not the puck, so it went in," Quailer said. "It was pretty lucky, but hard work gets you good things like that."
Hamilton (9-10-2) began the game the stronger of the two teams and held their visitors without a shot for the first 12 minutes.
Scoring chances were few and far between in the opening period, but the Monsters (12-11-2) came closest on a 2-on-1 break with three minutes remaining, only to be foiled by the alert Desjardins.
A scuffle at the conclusion of the first led to a Bulldogs power play to begin the second period, but winger Mike Blunden hit the post with a wrist shot before Pickard, who finished with 43 saves, produced a timely reaction to preserve the scoreless tie.
Pickard was called into service yet again when the puck fell to Quailer alone in the slot but the goaltender swatted away a wrist shot destined for the top corner.
The Monsters then had a great opportunity to open the scoring when Desjardins intentionally dislodged his net and was whistled for delay of game to hand the Monsters a two-man advantage for 1:18.
Desjardins said a battle with Lake Erie forwards in front of his net was the tipping point that caused him to take the penalty.
"We were battling hard and I was just trying to see the puck and I couldn't see it," said Desjardins.
But Desjardins redeemed himself with several saves over the course of the penalty kill as the Bulldogs held the Monsters off the scoreboard.
"I had to kill that off, because that was my fault and a bit of a mistake on my part," Desjardins said. "But we bounced back and we found a way through it."
The hosts threatened eight minutes into the third when winger Patrick Holland kept the puck on a 2-on-1 break and fired a close-range wrist shot that was stopped by Pickard.
Brendan Gallagher then had another great chance for Hamilton before Quailer finally found a way past the Lake Erie netminder.
Desjardins was impressed by Pickard's performance.
"I saw him play a couple of games last year and his game has improved a lot," Desjardins said. "He was ready and he was impressive tonight.
"He showed a lot of good stuff and it was a good match up."
Notes: Hamilton winger Aaron Palushaj left the game after being hit midway through the second period, but returned to start the third. ... Attendance at Copps Coliseum was 3,945. ... Lake Erie's Mike Connolly was held off the score sheet, ending his streak of four consecutive games with at least a point.