HAMILTON - The Syracuse Crunch benefited from two strange bounces in the second period en route to a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in the teams' final game of the American Hockey League season on Saturday.
Evan Rankin, Luke Witkowski and Jonathan Marchessault had goals for the Crunch. Cedric Desjardins made 22 saves.
Nathan Beaulieu scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs, and Dustin Tokarski stopped 23 shots in a losing effort.
With the win, Syracuse finishes with a record of 31-32-13 and ends the season 12th in the Eastern Conference standings.
The loss also concluded Hamilton's season with a 33-35-8 record, ensuring that the Bulldogs can finish no higher than 12th in the Western Conference.
A noticeable edge in speed had the Bulldogs carrying play early on Saturday, and Christian Thomas enjoyed the first quality scoring chance when Sven Andrighetto sprung him on a breakaway three minutes in. Thomas moved to his forehand and attempted a low wrist shot that Cedrick Desjardins sprawled to kick aside.
Another breakdown from the suspect Syracuse defence allowed Mike Blunden a breakaway of his own four minutes later, but Joey Mormina recovered to break his stride with a slash.
Denied on his own chance, Blunden assumed the role of creator on the ensuing power play as the Bulldogs opened the scoring at 8:14 of the first period. The winger held the puck along the right boards and fired a hard pass across the slot that the pinching Beaulieu latched onto and tipped past Desjardins at the far post.
Hamilton seemed to be well in control of its lead until a bad bounce victimized Tokarski and tied the game at 15:07 of the second.
A centring pass from Rankin missed the mark, but clipped the skate of Bulldog defenceman Joel Chouinard and trickled past Tokarski at the far post.
Another bizarre deflection gave Syracuse the lead just over a minute later.
Witkowski fired an attempted dump-in to Tokarski's left, but the puck took a radical deflection off Beaulieu in front and caught Tokarski entirely by surprise at 16:17 of the second.
The Crunch added an insurance goal late in the third to effectively put the game beyond reach.
A 3-on-1 rush developed with Marchessault heading it on the left wing, and he decided to keep the puck before firing a low wrist shot through the five hole of Tokarski at 15:27.
Hamilton finished 1 of 4 on the power play, while holding Syracuse goalless three times on the penalty kill.