Hamilton beats Hersey 5-2; lead series 2-1.

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    Canadian Press
    6/4/2007 11:14:49 PM

    HAMILTON (CP) – The Hamilton Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the Calder Cup final thanks to a brilliant offensive show from their defence.
    Danny Groulx scored twice and fellow blue-liner Andre Benoit had a goal and an assist to help the Bulldogs to a crucial 5-2 win Monday in Game 3 of the American Hockey League final. All five Hamilton goals were scored by defencemen.
    “I’m hitting the net I guess and it’s paying off at the right time,” said Groulx, who has six goals in the playoffs. “It was good to see all the D tonight step up.”
    Bulldogs head coach Don Lever said his defencemen have the green light to jump into the play but even he was surprised by their output in Game 3.
    “If there’s an opening, they’re told they have carte blanche to go,” said Lever. “Obviously they made a couple of great decisions.”
    Games 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series are scheduled at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum on Wednesday and Thursday.
    Rookie goaltender Carey Price was sharp again for Hamilton, making 39 saves – 17 in the opening period alone – to improve his 2007 post-season record to 13-6 with a .952 save percentage.
    “I don’t mind getting a lot of work,” Price said.
    Price made one of his best stops of the night on a Hershey man advantage early in the game. The rookie calmly flashed his glove to snag Tomas Fleischmann’s quick wrist shot from just outside the crease, preserving a one-goal lead.
    The Williams Lake, B.C. native and the fifth overall draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2006 draft leads all AHL playoff goalies in shutouts (two) and saves (593) and is now tied with Hershey’s Frederic Cassivi for most wins. Price’s 13 wins are also a franchise record for the playoffs.
    Corey Locke and Matt D’Agostini added two assists each for Hamilton, while defenceman Dan Jancevski had a goal and an assist. Defenceman Ryan O’Byrne also scored.
    Locke leads the Bulldogs with 22 points in the playoffs, passing former captain Jason Ward’s record of 21 points in a single post-season (2001-02).
    Jakub Klepis had both goals for Hershey, while Fleischmann assisted on each.
    Groulx opened the scoring just 1:20 into the game with on a point shot on the power play, then added his second of the night on another Hamilton man advantage late in the second period, capping a decisive 20 minutes of play.
    Hamilton scored four times in the period to pull away from the defending champion Bears.
    “I can’t believe where the energy came from,” Lever said of the second period. “When you’re short-handed I think for close to 14 minutes of that first period, I was really concerned about our energy level.”
    Benoit gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead early in the frame when he went hard to the net and deked Cassivi, sliding a back-hand shot into an empty net after just 1:19.
    O’Byrne made it 3-1 Hamilton when he converted a pretty cross-ice feed from D’Agostini, redirecting the puck through Cassivi’s legs at 7:58 of the second period.
    Jancevski stretched the lead to three goals on his third of the playoffs. The big defenceman controlled a rebound in a goal-mouth scramble and tucked the puck behind Cassivi, before Groulx added his second.
    Hamilton scored three power-play goals, while Hershey was just 1-for-11 with the man advantage, seven of those chances coming in the first period alone.
    “They obviously were way more determined,” said Hershey head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I think they had more chances killing penalties than we had on the power play.
    “As a coach, I find it unfathomable that eight or nine guys can come and absolutely no-show,” he added. “As bad a game as we can possibly play.
    “We were horrible.”
    Klepis scored his second of the game on a nice play, redirecting a pass from Fleischmann behind Price midway through the third period.
    The Bears had four consecutive opportunities to reply on the man advantage after trailing 1-0, but couldn’t tie the game.
    After dominating the first period of play, Hershey finally scored with a power-play goal at 19:49 from Klepis, who beat Price low on the short side after taking a feed from Fleischmann.
    The Bears out-shot Hamilton 18-6 after 20 minutes.
    “We have to get better on the power play definitely,” said Klepis, suggesting that more traffic and harder work in front of Price will pay off for the Bears.
    Klepis felt the lopsided loss hasn’t discouraged the defending Calder Cup champions.
    “We’re not down at all,” he said. “We have our heads up. Last year, we were down 2-1 and won the championship. We just have to regroup and be better on Wednesday.”
    Groulx said the Bulldogs just wanted to keep it simple in the third period after building their lead. While the victory was important, the Bulldogs won’t be dwelling on their good fortune.
    “Tonight was a big win for us but we have to take five minutes and enjoy it and then focus on the next one because that will be our biggest game of the year,” said Groulx.

    Notes: Locke needed just 20 playoff games to notch the Hamilton record for most points in a single post-season, while Ward needed 23 games to tally 21 in 2001-02 … Hershey went 1-for-7 on the power play in the first period …Hershey right-winger Scott Barney was held pointless on the night. Barney leads the Bears with 10 playoff goals (10-9-19), two of which came in the 4-2 game two Hershey win at home … The Bulldogs have not trailed in a series throughout their Calder Cup run.