Providence, RI – Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen said it was going to be a tight series.
He was right as the Providence Bruins held a 1-0 lead after two periods of play en route to a 2-1 victory over the Portland Pirates before 6,040 at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday night.
The best-of-seven Atlantic Division series is now tied 1-1 with Game 3 on Sunday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The game was scoreless until the 2:01 mark of the second period when Vladimir Sobotka beat Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth for the Bruins first goal of the series. Enroth had held the Bruins scoreless for 82:01, snapping a previous playoff record of 77:53 held by former Pirates’ goalie Ron Tugnutt during the 1995-’96 season.
Sobotka skating into the slot picked up the pass from Brad Marchand, slipping the puck by Enroth to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
“We knew they were going to come at us hard,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Mancari. “We took the first game from them in their own arena and I just don’t think we were up for (the game) in the first five minutes.”
The Pirates finally broke Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask shutout bid in the third period with a shorthanded goal by Captain Tyler Bouck.
Bouck fired a harmless shot, from the top of the left face off circle, on goal that deflected off the top of Rask’s glove into the net, tying the game at 1-1 with 16:27 remaining in the game.
“Somebody was going to win this game. It’s how you respond in certain situations,” said Dineen. “I though we pushed hard in the third period.”
At 10:32, the Bruins regained the lead, 2-1, as Jeremy Reich launched a laser into the upper-left corner, beating Enroth.
That was how the game remained as the Bruins made several small tweaks in their lineup, flipping center’s Zach Hamill and Martin St. Pierre. The Pirates knew what to expect going into the game.
“We missed some good chances, myself included, I missed three or four good chances to score where I was in front of the net and could have scored,” said Mancari.
“It was one of those games where things weren’t going in.”
The Pirates now return to the Civic Center for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon knowing they’ve at least accomplished one of their goals, taking one game in Providence.
“We took (Providence’s) home ice away and now we’re going back to where we are comfortable,” Mancari said. “We’ve got to answer the bell.”
Jhonas Enroth was once again fabulous in net, making 38 saves in the loss, while Rask stopped 27 of 28 shots in the win.
Enroth knows he’ll and the rest of the Pirates still have the momentum, but will need to be on their game on Sunday.
“The ball is in our court,” he said.
NOTES: The Pirates played the final 25 minutes without Mike Kostka, who suffered a right leg injury. Dineen said that Kostka shouldn’t miss any time, but needed to wait to see how he responded to treatment. The Buffalo Sabres signed defensemen TJ Brennan and Drew Schiestel to entry-level deals on Thursday. Brennan, from the Montreal Junior, joined the team in Providence and Schiestel is expected to join the team in Portland in the next couple of days.