Portland, ME – It’s the 12th round of a title match and the Portland Pirates are on the proverbial ropes after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Providence Bruins before 3,559 in attendance at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates will now have to travel to Rhode Island where they will the Bruins in a critical game that will decide if the Pirates live to play another day. Despite that fact, they can’t look beyond tomorrow’s game.
“There’s certainly going to be a lot of desperation in our game now,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen.
After winning the first game of the series in Providence, 3-0, the Pirates have had a difficult time dealing with the Bruins speed, size and overall skill losing two straight games on home ice and that has left them wondering what could have been if they buried their opportunities.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the game the other night,” said Dineen. “Again, we’ve said that we had some opportunities to put (Providence) away. (We) get a penalty shot opportunity, a couple good looks around the net and it’s a quick whistle… and the pucks are just not finding a way in.”
The end result has been Dineen shuffling his lines in attempt to generate some offense, which appeared to work in the first period as Mark Mancari, now skating with Marek Zagrapan and Tim Kennedy, scored his first goal of the playoff at the 11:55 mark of the period.
Mancari racing down the left side redirected Zagrapan’s cross-ice feed, beating Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask through the backdoor as Portland took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.
“It’s tough,” Dineen said. You’re trying to generate offense from all different places and you’re playing a three line team who basically roll three lines and they do a good job with it.”
The Pirates came narrowly close to making it 2-0 as Colin Murphy was awarded a penalty shot after being dragged down by Bruins’ defenseman Adam McQuaid while on a breakaway. On the ensuing attempt, he tried to go between the legs of Rask, but the Finnish goaltender made the save with his stick.
“(Rask) has played well all season and he continues to do so right now,” said Dineen. “Its playoff hockey so there’s not a ton of chances at both ends of the ice so you have to capitalize on the chances that you do have.”
“Those are the key moments when you need bear down and your good players to rise to the occasion.”
The Bruins have capitalized on their chances, and did so in the game, scoring a pair of goals in the final 2:47 of the second period.
Brad Marchand tied the game for the Bruins at 17:13 of the period when he redirected Johnny Boychuk’s slap shot from the right point to the far post, beating Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth.
With 16.7 seconds left in the period, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead as Kirk MacDonald ripped a one-timer from inside the left face off circle, beating Enroth after the Pirates turned the puck over along the boards.
MacDonald’s goal proved to be the game-winner as Rask stopped 31 of 32 shots for the win, while Enroth continued to play well despite the loss, making 35 saves.
NOTES: Pirates’ defenseman Mike Kostka returned to the lineup after missing one game with a right leg injury. Also, defenseman Chris Butler returned after spending the last few days in St. Louis for a family emergency.