Portland, ME – It was one of the ugliest games for the Portland Pirates, ever.
Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen agreed
“It was pretty disconcerting to us coaches,” he said. I think to the players, they were unhappy with how they came out and played the game.”
However, the Pirates overcame the first period with the help of goaltender Adam Dennis as they beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, before a crowd of 5,243 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Friday evening.
The Pirates fell down 2-0 on goals from Tim Jackman and Andrew MacDonald. It was the first time this season the Pirates gave up the first goal of the game.
Just 1:18 into the opening period, Bridgeport opened the scoring on a turnover from Paul Baier to Tim Jackman in the slot. Jackman fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Dennis.
Bridgeport, on the power play, made it 2-0 when Andrew MacDonald sent a beaming shot from the top of the right face-off circle, beating Dennis through the five-hole at 13:52 of the period.
The Pirates outshot 13-to-5 in the first period where in serious need of a wake up call.
“When you play like that,” said Dineen. “You basically fess up and find out what caused and how do you fix it.”
Portland, rallied by the play of Dennis (33 saves) and his locker room speech during the intermission, came out more inspired in the second period.
“(Dennis) stepped up to the plate big time,” said Pirates captain Tyler Bouck. “He’s in the room and talking saying things were unacceptable and guy really respond and respect him.”
“He’s a really leader on this club.”
At 2:58, Nathan Gerbe scored his third of the year, getting the Pirates on the board to cut the Sound Tiger lead in half, 2-1, when he ripped a shot by Bridgeport goaltender Yann Denis.
Mike Iggulden would restore the Sound Tigers two-goal lead just 32 seconds later.
With the Pirates down two men (Tyler Bouck – high sticking and Mike Weber – delay of game) for an extended period of time, Iggulden found himself alone at the bottom right faceoff circle, putting the shot up stairs on Dennis.
Portland pulled back within a goal at 3-2, when defenseman Chris Butler scored his first professional goal at 5:54 of the second period.
Dineen looking to find chemistry mixed up his lines a little bit, switching Mathieu Darche and Nathan Gerbe.
“We had to find some different chemistry to get some different people going,” said Dineen. “Fortunately for us it worked out.”
It would work out as Mark Mancari scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season, assisted by Darche and Marc-Andre Gragnani at 3:16 of the third period.
With the game winding down and overtime starting to look more like a possibility, the Pirates managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, much like their NHL parent club, the Buffalo Sabres did just a night ago.
At 17:09, Dylan Hunter chipped the puck up to Bouck, who was breaking into the offensive zone. With Sound Tiger defenseman Andrew MacDonald draped across his back, Bouck cut to the right post, lifting a backhand shot just under the crossbar, giving the Pirates the 4-3 lead and victory to improve to 3-1-0-0 on the season.
“I was trying to take the puck hard to the net,” said Bouck. “If I wasn’t going to score I was going to try and hit the goalie and see if something would happen, but luckily it went in.”
The Pirates will return to action tomorrow against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. The Pirates will be sporting a different look as they go pink in support if Breast Cancer Awareness Night. (Click here to see jersey) Game time is 7:00pm.
NOTES: Tim Kennedy extended his points-scoring streak to five games with an assist on Nathan Gerbe’s goal in the second period.