HAMILTON - The Toronto Marlies put on a special teams clinic, blanking the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-0 in American Hockey League action Friday night.
Hamilton went 0-for-8 on the power play and gave up a pair of short-handed goals with an empty net at the end of the game to complete the rout.
"(The penalty kill) was the best in the league last year, it's been in the top three all season," said a confident Toronto coach Dallas Eakins after the win.
Ben Scrivens made 23 saves and Toronto got second-period goals from a pair of unlikely sources Friday.
Juraj Mikus and Colton Orr scored in the second for Toronto (33-21-7), their third and first goals of the year, respectively. Ryan Hamilton added a third Marlies goal in the final period on the power play before Mike Zigomanis and Philippe Dupuis added empty netters.
Nathan Lawson made 18 saves for Hamilton (26-27-6).
The win breaks a three-game slump for the North Division-leading Marlies, and brings the season series to 6-4 in favour of Toronto over the Bulldogs.
There's a short turnaround to their next meeting. Hamilton visits the Marlies Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Friday's game.
That leaves the Bulldogs little time to make adjustments.
"We couldn't find a way to score a goal," added Hamilton coach Clem Jodoin. "There's no question we're going to look at the power play."
Eakins said that his only fear in the win was that his penalty killers may have been gassed with the extra ice time.
"We got ourselves into penalty trouble, our game plan wasn't to go out and irritate or agitate, we just wanted to play with pace and see if (Hamilton) could play at that pace," Eakins said. "We just wanted to play a patient game."
The teams combined for 62 penalty minutes in a game that featured three fights ??? a reoccurring theme for the southern Ontario rivals.
"I think these games are always physical," Orr said after the game. Friday's win was the 10th game between the North Division teams, a series that Toronto leads 6-4.
A scoreless first featured Toronto's top-ranked penalty kill. The Bulldogs outshot the Marlies 8-4 but couldn't put one past Scrivens despite three power play opportunities.
It wasn't until the second that the bad blood started to boil over between the Ontario rivals.
A knee on Hamilton's Joonas Nattinen by Mikus led to a fight between Alex Henry and Orr.
Mikus opened the scoring at 12:29 on a point shot that deflected in off of Bulldogs defenceman Mark Mitera.
"We preach to our guys to get pucks to the net," Eakins said.
A minute and a half later, Toronto added another when Marcel Mueller attracted a pair of defenders, giving Orr plenty of space in the slot to score his first of the season in his 12 games with the Marlies.
"I thought it was a great goal," Eakins said. "We had some good puck movement, and (Orr) finished it off."
Orr attributed the abundance of space to a solid forecheck, something that was lacking in the scoreless first period.
Hamilton added his 22nd of the season off a pass from Dupuis before Zigomanis and Dupuis iced it late.