Hartford, CT – The Portland Pirates deserved a better fate than they received, but those are the breaks in hockey.
Dane Byers’ slap shot from the left circle at 3:16 of overtime beat Pirates’ goalie Adam Dennis as the Hartford Wolf Pack went on for a 3-2 win before a crowd of 1,927 at the XL Center on Wednesday night.
“At the end of the night, it was a divisional four-point game and we come out with a point, but you’d like to think as hard as we played we may have deserved better,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen.
“At the end of the day, it was a couple of costly mistakes (leading to the goals) and it’s not so much when they happen, but when they go in the net.”
The Pirates opened the scoring at 8:18 of the first period while with the man advantage. Pirates’ defenseman Chris Butler fired the puck from the top of the zone where it off the backboard, Colin Murphy, at the left post, was able to get the backhand on the shot, beating Wolf Pack goaltender Miika Wiikman.
It was Murphy’s first of the season.
At 14:52, the Wolf Pack tied the game at 1-1 when Dale Weise finished off a weird play from behind the net. Artem Anisimov fired the shot from the point, where it made a weird bounce in front Dennis. Weise, in front of the crease, was able to get his stick on the ice squeezing it by Dennis.
With two minutes left in the period, Justin Soryal made it 2-1 for the Wolf Pack when he snapped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle, beating Dennis. One that he wished he had back.
“It seemed like they did all night to get pucks deep and bang (the body) a lot and it is an effective game,” said Butler.
The Pirates entered the game with only 17 healthy skaters and it would have been 15, if not for the resourcefulness of Dineen in finding a couple replacements.
Joining the Pirates were defenseman Matt MacDonald and Aaron Slattengren, both seeing significant ice time tonight.
Dineen wasn’t sure of his plans for the weekend.
“I signed MacDonald at 8 o’ clock and Slattengren around 10 o’ clock last night,” said Dineen. “I’m waiting to see how things filter out from Buffalo’s game tomorrow evening and we’ll evaluate it again tomorrow.”
This isn’t the first time Slattengren has played in the AHL or the Portland Pirates. He spent a good part of last season with the Providence Bruins, scoring 23 points (10g, 13a) in 32 games.
“I’ve coached him and coached against him and I know what we’re going to get out of him,” said Dineen. “His transition will be very quick.”
At 8:11 of the third period, the Pirates would finally get a goal past Wiikman, who was playing stellar in net, stopping 22 shot in the first two periods. Gerbe scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season when he shook off Wolf Pack defenseman Corey Potter, beating Wiikman upstairs.
The Pirates had several more opportunities to break the tie, but Wiikman was nothing short of spectacular, stopping 30 shots on the night.
At the other end of the ice, Dennis suffered his first loss of the season, making 20 saves on the tonight.
After the game, the Pirates will travel halfway to Delaware, stopping for the night before traveling to Norfolk, VA for a pair of games against the Norfolk Admirals and former Pirates’ Zenon Konopka, Brandon Segal and Mike McKenna.