Portland, ME – The Portland Pirates got a little puck luck to go with their hard work as they defeated the Lowell Devils, 3-1, in front of a sparse crowd of 2,017 at Tsongas Arena on Friday night.
With the win, the Pirates took the season series 6-4-0-0, hurting the playoff hopes of the Devils.
“We need all the points we can get at this point,” said Pirates’ forward Mathieu Darche. “Just by doing that we put a big dent in (Lowell’s) playoff chances.”
Darche was credited with two goals on the night, but if it wasn’t for the play of goalie Jhonas Enroth the outcome might have been different as he made 35 saves on 36 shots including a glove save in the third period to keep the Pirates one goal lead intact.
“At least we’re pushing teams back,” said Darche. “Jhonas was the difference for us tonight and even in the second period when we got into penalty trouble and in the third period to go up 2-1, he made that huge glove save.”
“You go as far as your goaltending will take you.”
The Pirates opened the scoring at 17:01 of the first period when Darche, at the right post, tapped the puck by Devils’ goalie Scott Clemmensen after the puck sat there for several seconds.
After a scoreless second period, in which the Devils outshot the Pirates, 19-6, the Devils finally broke through on a goal that Enroth wished he could have had back.
Devils defenseman Tyler Eckford fired the puck toward the Pirates goal, but Pascal Rheaume managed to get the tip of his stick on the shot, redirecting into the pads of Enroth, who thought he made the save.
Instead the puck trickled through his legs, rolling into the net at 3:13 of the period.
At 4:30, the Pirates regained the lead off another odd goal as Darche was credit with a goal when Scott Clemmensen’s clearing attempt deflected on a skate back into the net.
“We didn’t score any pretty goals tonight, but at this time of the year who cares,” said Darche. “It’s nice to see us bounce right back. Usually they get one in the third and then we get back on how heels and they score more.”
The win for the Pirates did little, but maintain their spot in the Atlantic Division standings as both Manchester and Worcester won on Friday night. The Pirates are still in a third-place tie with Worcester with 81 points and Manchester is one point back, however, still control their own fate in making the playoffs.
“That’s all we can ask for at this point of the season,” said Darche.
“If we help ourselves we’ll be in”
NOTES: The Sabres signed Travis Turnbull from the University of Michigan to a two-year entry-level deal yesterday. He was assigned to Portland, but didn’t arrive in time for the game.
In four seasons at Michigan, Turnbull scored 40 goals, 50 assists for 90 points in 166 games.
Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen spoke about Turnbull’s play and how he will fit into the Sabres’ organization as well as the Pirates lineup.
“He’s a power play player and a right handed centerman that we’ve needed since game one,” said Dineen. “He’s got a compete level that were always searching for and I felt there was deep level of due diligence done before we signed him.”
Turnbull is the son of former NHL’er Perry Turnbull, who spent the better part of eight years in St. Louis, Montreal and Winnipeg. In 608 NHL games, he scored 351 points (188g, 163a) and amassed 1245 PIM’s.
“Perry was a hard-nosed, big guy with a lot of character to him and part of a very good St. Louis organization,” said Dineen. “He was a (player) of good size and skill and I think Travis has picked up some of those attributes.”