Portland, ME – In the last two games, the Portland Pirates had 83 shots on goal, but they only have two goals to show for their effort.
The Lowell Devils scored three first period goals, including one with a second left in the period as they rolled over the Pirates 3-1 before a 4,216 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.
It was the Pirates fifth straight loss (0-4-1) and while the frustration has begun to creep into the locker room, it’s not for the lack of effort on the Pirates part. Portland has piled the shots on net during the losing streak, but have very little to show for it in the form of goals.
“We’re not taking any solace from effort or shots on net or anything like that,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen.
After beginning the season by earning 26 of a possible 30 points over their first 15 games, including a stretch were the Pirates won eight straight games, they now find themselves in a slump losing their last four games in regulation.
“We’ve officially crossed over to the flipside of what we had going earlier this season,” said Dineen.
Ironically, during these last five games, the Pirates were without the services of Mark Mancari, who was the team’s leading scoring with 11 goals, 14 assists in 14 games prior to being recalled by Buffalo, but Dineen refused to use that as an excuse.
In that span, Portland scored an average 4.08 goals per game, while allowing 2.57 goals per game as compared with now where the Pirates are allowing 4.50 goals per game and have managed a paltry 1.75 goals per game.
“It comes and goes and it certain gone right now,” said Dineen. “But, we have find away to find it (offense) again.”
The Pirates have also found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard, giving up the first goal in their last three games. Prior, to the lost against the Sharks, the Pirates were 4-0-0-0 when allowing the first goal, but now giving up the first goal has been a stroke of death for the team.
Just 1:57 into the opening period, the Pirates found themselves down 1-0 on a goal by Nicklas Bergfors as he walked in behind the Pirates defense capitalizing on the give and go from Chad Wiseman, beating Adam Dennis.
The Pirates, despite being down 1-0, were buzzing the Devils net, but they couldn’t beat goaltender Jeff Frazee, who made several spectacular saves.
At 15:25, Bergfors scored his second goal of the night when spilt the defense, potting the shot between the legs of Dennis for the 2-0 Devils lead.
With one second left on the clock in the first period, Lowell sent a collective groan throughout the 4-C’s when Ryan Murphy put a wrist shot by Dennis to give the Devils a commanding 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
That ended the night for Dennis, who only had six saves on nine shots, in favor on Jhonas Enroth, but Dineen was willing to place blame at his feet for the score.
“We had them with four chances in the first period and they scored on three of them,” he said. “That’s not a reflection on the goaltending. The chances (Lowell) had were really good.”
“I thought (Dennis) played well to get back in the game. I thought he had a solid game in Manchester and he deserved to play tonight.”
The Pirates finally got on the board, cutting the lead to two, when Colin Murphy scored his second goal of the season, putting a backhand by Frazee through a scrum with 7:18 left in the period.
However, just 35 seconds later, the Devils came right back to make it 4-1 when Chad Wiseman caught the Pirates sitting around, putting a one-timer by Enroth under the crossbar at 13:08 of the second period.
Lowell would add insult to injury in the third period as Alexander Vasyunov, swiped the rebound by Enroth as he was falling down at 2:51 of the period, while on the power play.
NOTES: Pirates’ enforcer Jimmy Bonneau will be out of the lineup for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken right hand. The injury happened in a fight against the Worcester Sharks back on Dec. 7 when he fought Brett Westgarth.