TORONTO - The Toronto Marlies stuck to their game plan on Saturday to earn back-to-back wins over their closest rivals.
Mike Zigomanis scored in overtime as Toronto dominated the Hamilton Bulldogs for the second straight day with a 2-1 overtime win on Saturday.
The Marlies were outshooting Hamilton 12-3 after one period of play but were still somehow trailing 1-0.
"I went in and challenged them to keep doing what we've been doing," Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said about what his message to his team was after a frustrating first period. "There were literally no adjustments that I wanted to make. I was happy with our game and let's keep things going this way."
But the Marlies aren't on top in the AHL's North Division and second in the Western Conference for nothing. They padded that lead over the weekend with a 5-0 win in Hamilton on Friday and then Saturday's victory.
Zigomanis' OT goal sealed the comeback win for the Marlies (34-21-7) after Frederic St-Denis had given the Bulldogs the lead in the first period.
Zigomanis led a fast rush and his shot from the left side went in the top corner behind Hamilton's Nathan Lawson.
"It's never easy against them. They're at the bottom of the division but when we play them we take the same approach. They never give up and they come out to play every game," Zigomanis said of Hamilton, which started the day in last place in the North Division and nine points back of the Rochester Americans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Toronto tops the North Division with 75 points and with the single point registered on Saturday. The Bulldogs are up to 59, still sitting at the bottom of the division.
It looked like St-Denis' goal would hold up to be the winner for the Bulldogs (26-27-7) until a third period goal at 9:04 by Kelsey Wilson tied it for the Marlies.
"There's no comparison to the game we played (Friday) night," said Bulldogs head coach Clement Jodoin. "We did win a lot of battles on the ice. The worst part is we've scored only five goals in the last five games. So, we had our chances, we had our breaks but we just couldn't capitalize on it."
St-Denis opened the scoring against the top-ranked Marlies penalty-kill on the Bulldogs' second shot of the game. The defenceman's point shot cleared traffic and found its way past Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens.
The goal came on the Bulldogs' first power-play opportunity of the game just a night after they went 0-8 with the extra man in that 5-0 loss to the Marlies. They went scoreless the rest of Saturday with the man advantage going 1-7 overall.
The Marlies went scoreless on six opportunities on the power play.
"The only thing we can do is look after ourselves and Hamilton played a hard game and tried to win it 1-0 and they were almost successful," said Eakins.
The Marlies tied things up with less than 11 minutes remaining in the third period as Wilson was getting out of the penalty box for serving a holding penalty. Greg Scott found the forward with a pass up the right wing and Wilson came in all alone to beat Lawson, who had been solid up to that point, with a forehand shot.
"They're not all going to be easy and great games and we're not going to breeze through them and score on every chance," said Zigomanis. "We had a couple grade-A scoring chances and it could have been three or four nothing but we stayed patient and stuck with it."
Lawson made 30 saves in the losing effort for the Bulldogs while Scrivens made 22 to pick up the win for the Marlies.
This was the 11th meeting between the two sides this season. They still have two games against each other before the end of the regular season. Toronto's won the last four games between the two teams and seven of the meetings this season.