HAMILTON, Ontario --- Jon DiSalvatore scored twice including the game-winning goal as the Houston Aeros took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 3 of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals on Tuesday at Copps Coliseum.
Game 4 is set for Wednesday night in Hamilton with a 6:30 p.m. CST puck drop.
With Kyle Klubertanz in the penalty box for tripping, DiSalvatore potted his second goal of the night and eventual game-winner at 5:18 of the second period. DiSalvatore’s go-ahead goal in the second period came after the Bulldogs battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the opening 20 minutes.
Patrick O’Sullivan earned two assists including the primary helper on DiSalvatore’s game-winner. Houston’s Jared Spurgeon extended his scoring streak to four games with two assists while goaltender Matt Hackett improved to 5-2 on the road in the postseason with a 25-save effort.
The Aeros took a 2-0 lead on first period goals by DiSalvatore at 3:39 and Maxim Noreau at 15:40. DiSalvatore’s power play tally finished off a 2-on-1 setup by O’Sullivan while Noreau’s unassisted goal capped off a missed clearing attempt by the Bulldogs.
Hamilton answered with a pair of late first period tallies starting with 1:49 left in the frame. Nigel Dawes bagged his 10th postseason goal on the power play to cut the lead in half and then Andreas Engqvist tied it with 22 seconds left in the first period.
BOMB DROPPINGS The Aeros scored first for the third straight game… Patrick O’Sullivan snapped a three-game scoreless run… When leading a Calder Cup Playoff series 3-0 the Aeros have gone on to win all three of those best-of-seven matchups… JM Daoust made his first appearance of the postseason for the Aeros… Including IHL Playoff series, the Aeros are 3-1 in Game 4 situations when holding a 3-0 series lead. The only Game 4 loss came in 1997 against San Antonio in the second round. Houston clinched the series with a Game 5 victory.
AEROS STARTERS F – Gillies, Ortmeyer, Peters D – Spurgeon, Bagnall G - Hackett