Portland, ME – There was plenty of tricks, but few treats for the Portland Pirates as special teams and turnovers continue to still plague the team. Mark McCutcheon scored a pair of goals for Portland, but it wasn’t enough as they lost their first game of the season at the Cumberland County Civic Center, 3-2, before a crowd of 2,567 on Saturday night.
The Pirates, who are still having difficulty on the power play, went 0-for-5 on the night. Something that has been symbolic of how their power play has been on the season, going 7-for-57 (12%)in 12 games.
“There are mistakes that we continue to make and they keep on biting us in the tail and those are the areas that we are going to have to correct,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen.
Killing penalties haven’t been much better for Portland this season, going 40-for-56 (71.4%), which includes tonight where they gave up the only goal in the first period on the power play.With Nathan Gerbe off the ice for tripping, Mark Flood ripped a shot from the left point through a screen to Trevor Smith, who redirected the shot over Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth at 6:44 of the period.
Early in the second period, Portland tied the game at 1-1 when Mark McCutcheon made a nice heads up play to crash the net, as Sound Tigers’ goalie Nathan Lawson turned the puck over behind the net and couldn’t get back in time to make the save.
“It’s frustrating,” said McCutcheon. “We are working hard so we can take that away, it’s not a lack of effort.”
At 10:55, Bridgeport regained their one goal lead when the Pirates failed to clear the zone and Matt DiBenedetto worked the puck down to Jesse Joensuu along the right half-boards. Joensuu fed the puck to Greg Mauldin, in the slot, where he snapped a shot by Enroth to give Bridgeport a 2-1 lead.
Midway into the third period, Sound Tigers extended their lead to 3-1 as Pirates’ defenseman Joe DiPenta dished the puck into the slot, turning it over to Matt Martin, who fired a wrist shot between Enroth’s legs at 9:10 of the period.
“Turnovers have played a part in (our losing streak),” Dineen said. (Other issues) are power plays, where we have to have some execution. There’s lot of areas that (need improvement), but turnover’s are a big part of it.”
The Pirates tried to get back into the game, scoring a goal with 2:10 left in the game as McCutcheon scored his second of the night after taking several whacks at the puck from the right post, before it trickled in the net.
Enroth made 17 saves in the loss, while Nathan Lawson stopped 27 of 29 shots for the win.
NOTES: Pirates forward Nathan Gerbe only played a couple shifts in the third period as he suffered an undisclosed injury. Dineen said that Gerbe was dealing with health issues could only play through a couple shifts.