Lowell, Mass. – It was another game that at the end of the season, the Portland Pirates may say, “Only if we could have won that game”.
The Lowell Devils scored two goals in the first period to hold on for the 2-1 win over the Pirates in front of a crowd less than 1,008 announced at Tsongas Arena on Wednesday night.
The Pirates only playing two regulars back on the blueline found themselves down 1-0 midway into the first period as a result of a defensive breakdown and bad line change.
Nicklas Bergfors, who has six points in four games played against Portland this season, added to that total when he drew both Zach Tarkir and Matt Macdonald to the nearside board, where he fed the puck to John DiSalvatore, coming of the bench for a clean shot at Enroth.
DiSalvatore, deke and snapped a wrist shot upstairs on Enroth at 7:13 of the first period. Bergfors was credited with an assist on the play.
“It wasn’t totally the (defense’s) fault,” said Pirates’ assistant coach Eric Weinrich. “We also have to have guys coming back and pick up late men too.”
Matt Macdonald would head to the penalty box at 15:26 of the period, giving the Devils their first power play of the game. It paid off with 54 seconds left; DiSalvatore fired a shot on goal that was redirected by Patrick Davis over Enroth’s block at 16:38 of the period.
For much of the game, the Pirates controlled the tempo and flow, but they couldn’t get anything by Devils’ goalie Jeff Frazee. The pair of goals by Lowell was all they needed as Frazee played spectacular stopping 33 of 34 shots in the victory.
“That seems to be a theme for us, right now,” said Weinrich. “We can’t even afford to make one or two mistakes because they are ending up in our net.”
The lone Pirates goal came with 7:37 left in the third period and Derek Whitmore finally snapped Frazee’s shutout bid as he pounced on Cliff Loya’s slow shot from the slot and lifted it over the top of Frazee, cutting the Devils lead to 2-1.
Frustration began to creep into the Pirates game late, as Marc-Andre Gragnani took a double minor for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, late in the period.
“We can’t take lazy penalties and not penalties on the ref,” said Pirates’ captain Tyler Bouck. “It’s just not tonight, but it’s something that’s plagued us throughout the whole year. We had a chance to win that game, if that didn’t happen.”
The Pirates killed off the penalty, in thanks to a bad penalty taken by Matthew Corrente with 1:10 left in the period. The Pirates, with Enroth pulled, skated with a 5-on-4 until Gragnani’s penalty expired with 27 seconds left. However, Portland failed to get a shot off on net.
NOTES: Tyler Bouck returned to the lineup tonight after missing the last 11 games with a concussion. He didn’t know he was going to play until late this afternoon when he was finally medically cleared by the doctors. Tim Kennedy also returned to the lineup tonight, wearing a full-face shield after missing Saturday’s game due to a baseball style swing to the mouth. Nathan Gerbe and Mike Card were out of the lineup because of the flu, joining Gragnani and Whitmore who also dealt with similar symptoms.