Portland, ME—The last time the Portland Pirates and Springfield Falcons squared off at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the teams combined for eight goals and Springfield skated away with a 5-4 shootout victory.
Saturday night provided a different atmosphere and a much more pleasing result for the Pirates faithful among the 5,416 in attendance.
Nathan Gerbe scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to help the Portland Pirates secure a berth in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs with an impressive come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Springfield Falcons.
“Being down a goal didn’t bug us,” said Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen. “There is a strong belief in the locker room right now and we’ve (come back from behind) many times this year.”
The Pirates (4-0-1-1) and Falcons (3-0-2-1) both entered Saturday night’s contest unbeaten in regulation through their past six games. It’s a safe bet that Springfield will not be playing hockey in May, but it’s never safe to discount such an opponent.
“They may not be fighting for a playoff spot, but they’re fighting for jobs,” said Nathan Gerbe after the game.
“We were expecting a hard game, they have a lot of skilled players,” continued Dineen. “They had a lot of push tonight and we took several penalties out of frustration.”
Cody McCormick was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for slashing at 12:14 of the first period.
The Pirates and Falcons traded chances through forty minutes, but neither team could bury the puck.
Dineen was not pleased with how some of his players handled the puck in periods one and two. “We were being too cute with the puck,” said Dineen. “Simple is always better”.
The Pirates did appear to simplify their game in the third period and the goals would come, two of them from unlikely sources considering the firepower on both sides.
Approximately halfway through the third period, Falcons center Geoff Paukovich capitalized on a turnover in Portland’s defensive zone, slipping a low backhanded shot past Lamoureux’s outstretched arm and into the cage for the first goal of the game. The goal by Paukovich, just his 5th of the season, ended J.P. Lamoureux’s shutout streak at 110:03 (stretching back to a 2-0 shutout win in Providence on Friday night).
Travis Turnbull responded for the Pirates 3:54 later with his 8th goal on the campaign. Turnbull corralled the puck to the right of the Springfield net, wheeled into the low slot, and snuck a wrist shot past goaltender Bryan Pitton on the short side. Brad Larsen picked up the lone assist on the game-tying goal.
At 18:33, Nathan Gerbe brought the Civic Center crowd to its feet with the eventual game-winning goal. Gerbe collected the loose puck in front and snapped a low shot over Pitton’s right pad.
|POR||1/5||23 min / 6 inf||8||6||10||24|
|SPR||0/5||10 min / 5 inf||12||5||11||28|
Glimpse of the Future: Tyler Ennis, on recall to the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) picked up two assists in Buffalo’s 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. Ennis now has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in two career NHL games.
Another budding star was on display Saturday night at the Civic Center. Springfield’s Jordan Eberle was the Edmonton Oilers’ 1st round pick (22nd overall) in 2008 and, like Ennis, has a good shot to make the big club out of camp in 2010-11.
Nathan Gerbe is now five points shy of 100 in his AHL career.
UP NEXT: Sunday, March 28th 4:00 PM EDT vs. Hartford Wolfpack.