Portland, ME – Jeff Cowan and Derek Whitmore provided the offense and Jhonas Enroth shone as the Portland Pirates earned a 2-1 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night in front of 6,200 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The win comes on the heels of a thrilling shootout victory against the Sound Tigers on Friday night, giving the Pirates all four possible points in the back-to-back games.
“(Bridgeport) is the only team in our division that (prior to tonight) we had a below .500 record against. It’s nice to battle back and win these two games and bring that stat back to even,” Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen commented. “It’s a competitive series. I like the way we played tonight.”
It took less than two minutes for the Pirates to open the scoring on their first shot of the game. Philip Gogulla collected the puck behind the Bridgeport net after a miscue by goaltender Nathan Lawson, and fed the puck in front to Derek Whitmore who cashed in.
With Sound Tiger defenseman John Gleed serving a delay of game penalty, Jeff Cowan extended Portland’s lead to 2-0 with just over one minute remaining in the first period. Mike Kostka’s initial shot from the point missed to the right of Lawson before the puck ricocheted back in front of the goal. Cowan directed the puck off of Lawson’s pad and across the goal line for the eventual game-winning goal.
“I saw the goalie was kind of having trouble getting back into the net … I tried to throw it off his pad and it worked,” said Cowan after the game.
Jhonas Enroth kept his team at bay early in the second period with a sparkling glove save on Micheal Haley. Matt Generous fumbled the puck in his own zone, handing Haley a prime scoring chance, but Enroth robbed him with the glove to preserve Portland’s 2-0 lead. Enroth was forced to make additional key saves in the final minute of the middle period. Nathan Lawson was busy as well for the Sound Tigers, turning away 11 Portland shots, and 23 through 40 minutes.
Bridgeport turned up the pressure late in the third period. Anton Klementyev helped reduce Portland’s lead to one goal by releasing a low slap shot from just inside the Pirates blue line. Sean Bentivoglio managed to deflect the puck between Enroth’s pads and into the net. Klementyev and Trevor Smith were credited with assists on the final goal of the game.
Jhonas Enroth made 22 saves for Portland in the winning effort, his fourth win through his last five starts. Nathan Lawson turned aside 25 shots in the loss.
The Pirates went 1-for-5 with the man advantage and held Bridgeport 0-for-4 in their power play opportunities.
“Everybody’s buying in and that’s the best part of it,” said Pirates forward Kyle Wanvig. “It’s fun when you can trust the guy beside you every night”.
Up Next: Tuesday, February 2nd vs. Manchester. The puck drops at 11:00 a.m. as part of the Let’s Go! Goes to a Pirates Game educational event. A total of 23 Maine schools will be represented along with more than 3,500 students, administrators, teachers and chaperones will take part in this inaugural event which is designed to promote healthy and active lifestyle choices for Maine students.