Two strange bounces punished the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday.
Dimitry Korobov scored the game-winning goal and Riku Helenius made 23 saves as the Syracuse Crunch shut out the Bulldogs 3-0 in American Hockey League action.
The Bulldogs felt they were the victims of an unflattering score line — and a pair of fluky goals — because of an inability to finish.
"We hit a couple of crossbars, a couple of posts," said Hamilton winger Aaron Palushaj. "All in all, I think that we were in that game. I don't think it was a 3-0 result."
J.T. Wyman and Richard Panik added goals for Syracuse (6-1-2).
With the win, the Crunch remain unbeaten on the road in regulation time (5-0-1).
The loss is Hamilton's (4-3-2) first in regulation at Copps Coliseum this season. Bulldog goaltender Robert Mayer stopped 30 of 33 shots in a losing effort.
"(Mayer's) been playing unbelievably for us, so it's tough to see goals like that," said Palushaj. "He played well for the whole game and those really weren't his fault."
The game started slowly, with the two teams combining for only two shots on goal through the first 10 minutes of play.
"Syracuse is a team that plays in your face, and I think we maybe weren't used to that," said Bulldogs coach Sylvain Lefebvre of the slow start. "We have to find a way to play through those checks and fight through adversity."
Brendan Gallagher had the Bulldogs best opportunity to score with two minutes remaining in the opening period.
A rolling puck dribbled across the crease with Helenius unable to find it, but Gallagher could not make contact on his attempted tap in.
A largely uneventful first period came to an end without a goal, and with very few clear scoring chances for either side.
The visitors enjoyed the first power play of the game at 3:46 of the second, after Hamilton's Alain Berger was whistled for tripping. Syracuse came away empty-handed from their man-advantage, but would score the game's first goal shortly after.
Korobov unwittingly opened the scoring at 6:01, when his centring attempt bounced off of Bulldog defenceman Morgan Ellis and Mayer before crossing the goal-line. The goal was Korobov's first of the season.
The Crunch benefitted from another fortuitous bounce to double their lead late in the period.
Radko Gudas' wristshot from the point bounced high off of the end glass and landed in front of Wyman, who easily tapped the puck into the open net at 15:40.
"It was still 2-0 and they had a couple of gifts," said Lefebvre. "It's something to remember that we were in it all the way."
The Bulldogs squandered a glaring opportunity to score only minutes later, when centre Joonas Nattinen slid a shot inches wide of an open goal.
Hamilton began the third period with a power play for 50 seconds but could not make the most of the man-advantage.
The Bulldogs fired 10 shots at Helenius in the third but could not break the shutout.
Lefebvre credited the Crunch's resolve in maintaining their lead in the face of a late Bulldogs charge.
"They don't panic and they don't get frustrated," said Lefebvre of Syracuse. "We saw some frustration in our players tonight and it's something that we have to learn from.
"We didn't have our best game overall, as a whole."
Syracuse added an insurance goal at 18:16 when Panik scored into an empty net.
Hamilton killed all three of its penalties, and has now successfully killed 22 of its 24 penalties in the past five games.
But the Bulldogs also failed to find the net on all four of their power plays, and have only scored four of their 41 man-advantages this season.
"We had a few chances, but we just have to put the puck in the net, that's for sure," said Lefebvre of his beleaguered power play. "It's been a little bit out of sync at times, but it's a learning process.
"Good teams bounce back. That's what we have to do."
Notes: Syracuse winger Cory Conacher was scoreless, ending his league-leading streak of eight games with a point. ... The Bulldogs failed to register 30 or more shots for the first time this season. ... Attendance at Copps Coliseum was officially announced as 2,545