Providence, RI – It ended all too soon in the Portland Pirates eyes. What began as a promising start turned horribly wrong, but at the end of the day the Providence Bruins were the better team.
With four straight wins, the Bruins eliminated the Pirates, 4-1, in the best-of-seven Atlantic Division Semifinal series after capturing their second 2-1 win in as many days on Friday night.
The Bruins will now wait for the winner of the Hartford/Worcester to see who they will play in the Atlantic Division Finals. Worcester currently leads that series 3-2 with Game 6 on Saturday at the DCU Center.
For the Pirates, it’s cleaning out their lockers and prepare for a long summer of wondering about missed opportunities. In the last three games of the series, the Pirates were held to one goal as they couldn’t find the net when they needed to the most.
“They were a team that wanted extremely badly and they felt like (this) was an important series for them,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen referring to the Bruins.
The Bruins down by a goal in all three games never back down and again, it showed in the second period, outshooting the Pirates 17-7, but more importantly, scoring a pair goals to grab the lead.
At 5:46, Jordan Knackstedt scored his first of the playoffs when he redirected Dan Ryder’s shot from the right face off circle by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth.
With 15 seconds left in the period, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead after a bad change by the Pirates led to a five-on-three advantage. Mikko Lehtonen carried the puck into the zone, dishing it off to Peter Schaefer, who sent a wrist shot sailing over the shoulder of Enroth.
It turned out to be a backbreaker for the Pirates.
“The tone of the game is square and you’re in that situation and it was a bad play,” said Dineen. “There should have been a change. The puck is in the offensive zone and there’s two tired guys out there, which should have never happened. Those are things you’d like to learn 20 games into the season and we continue to make those mistakes and games like today they come back and bite us.”
“Tonight it did.”
The Pirates had their chance to score, especially on the power play, but they could only manage a single power play goal, going 1-for-18 during the series.
“It’s tough to win a series without a power play and the power play is what wins games right now,” said Pirates captain Tyler Bouck.
The lone power play goal came at 10:25 of the first period as Portland opened the scoring when Mike Kostka let a blast go from the left point, beating Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Despite not getting the wins, Jhonas Enroth played admirable stopping 36 of 38 shots in the game. During the series, Enroth faced a tremendous amount shots and was up to the task, stopping 157 of 167 shots. In three of the five games, he faced 35 or more shots on the night.
“(Rask) was good, but I’d take our guy any day of the week,” said Dineen.
“He’s a big game player.”
NOTES: The Pirates and Bruins were down to 17 skaters after the first period. Pirates forward Colin Murphy was checked awkwardly into the boards and suffered a shoulder injury according to Dineen after the game, saying that Murphy was most likely out long term if the Pirates had won. The Bruins were without Vladimir Sobotka, who injured his first late in the first period and never returned.