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Canadian Press
Nov 11, 2006, 5:35 PM EST

TORONTO (CP) - Selecting Jaroslav Halak in the 2003 NHL entry draft was like throwing a dart in the dark for the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs had already selected 10 players, and the unheralded five-foot-11 Slovakian was still available. They got him 271st overall when he was playing for the Bratislava junior team.

The way that Halak has played lately, Habs GM Bob Gainey might want to send his European scouts a bottle of expensive brandy as a reward.

Halak, who played in the ECHL at Long Beach, Calif., most of last season, made 42 saves in leading the Hamilton Bulldogs past the Toronto Marlies 2-1 in an AHL game Saturday afternoon.

"He won (Friday) and he had a shutout in the game before that," said Bulldogs coach Don Lever. "The (Friday) game wasn't very taxing - he only faced five or six scoring chances - and I figured he was pretty sharp, so I decided we'd just keep going with him."

Good move, Don.

Linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Duncan Milroy scored for the Bulldogs, both on power plays in the first period, in front of 5,960 spectators at Air Canada Centre. Grabovski and Milroy each had two points as they set up one another's goals.

"We got behind the eight-ball early, and that's been a bit of a trend lately," said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. "Those lazy penalties, especially early, we end up getting behind and spend the rest of the game trying to battle back. But we did keep coming at them, and that's encouraging."

The win was the second in a row for Hamilton, and fourth in its last five games. The Bulldogs improved to 6-6-1 and are two points up on the Marlies, 5-8-1, in the AHL's North Division.

Right winger Brad Leeb scored the lone goal for Toronto. It was the third straight loss and fourth in five games for the Marlies, who fell to 2-6-1 at home.

"We've had a few of these (one-goal losses) so far this season," Gilbert said. "The kids worked hard, though, and kept skating, kept competing."

With the annual Royal Agricultural Fair taking up residence at Ricoh Coliseum, the Marlies played their second straight game in the home of their NHL parent, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bulldogs are the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, who played the Leafs at ACC in the NHL's annual Hall of Fame game Saturday night.

Halak was especially busy in the third period, when he stopped all 23 shots he faced.

"He played very well," said Marlies goalie Justin Pogge of his counterpart. "He made some big saves for them.

"He just wouldn't give up that tying goal."

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