The Portland Pirates can breathe a sigh of relief after finally earning a victory on the road.
Derek Whitmore scored the go ahead goal in the shootout to give the Pirates a 6-5 win over the Norfolk Admirals before an announced attendance of 3,480 at the Norfolk Scope on Friday night.
It was the second time in four games the Pirates have needed a shootout to decide the outcome, and with both teams tied at 1-1, Derek Whitmore remained perfect in the shootout (2-for-2), snapping a shot off the crossbar past Admirals goalie Cedrick Desjardins.
Pirates’ goalkeeper David Leggio, who was earning his second straight start, played in the Pirates only other shootout game back on Oct. 19, stopping eight-of-nine shooters for the 2-1 win, as he stopped four-of-five shooters including Paul Szczechura on the Admirals final shot.
The game was the start of the four-game road trip for the Pirates, who play the Admirals again on Saturday before heading to Charlotte, NC for a pair of games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It would appear the Pirates might have to wait another night to earn the road win as Ty Wishart scored his fourth of the season with a shot through a pile of bodies’ midway into the third period to put the Admirals up 5-4.
At 14:43, Luke Adam, just back from making his NHL debut with Buffalo, tied the game at 5-5 when he sent a backhand by Desjardins from the top of the crease.
Things looked good for the Pirates early in the game as they were quick to strike first.
Only 1:40 into the first period Adam, who scored a goal and two assists on the night, sent a drop pass to Mark Mancari as he blasted a shot between the legs of Desjardins, giving Portland a 1-0 lead.
At 8:49, Marc-Andre Gragnani scored his first goal of the season to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead after finishing off a tic-tac-toe play from Mark Parrish and Colin Stuart.
Stuart extended his point-scoring streak to four games with the assist on the play.
However, for the third straight game the Pirates built a 2-0 lead only to see it evaporate by the opposing team.
The Admirals scored a pair of goals in a span of 3:07 as James Wright cut to the front of the net at 11:15 of the first period, beating Leggio with a snap shot, followed by Juraj Simek’s goal at 14:22 as he finished off a three-on-two odd-man rush.
With the Pirates on a power play, a defensive breakdown by Norfolk led Gragnani, splitting the defense for a breakaway as he put the Pirates back out in front with his second goal of the game only 90 seconds into the start of the second period.
It’s the four straight game the Pirates have scored a power play goal after going scoreless (0-for-32) in their first five games of the season.
Only 32 seconds later, Norfolk tied the game at 3-3 when Simek scored his second goal of the game.
Marc-Andre Pouliot gave the Admirals their first lead of the game with a power play goal just 2:05 later.
With Pouliot at the top of the right circle, Johan Harju dished the puck to the defenseman, who rifled the shot by Leggio at 4:07 of the second period.
The Pirates responded at 10:27 of the period when defenseman Drew Schiestel scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at 4-4.
Both teams finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play.
Leggio continued his strong play as he stayed undefeated, stopping 36 of 41 shots in the win. Desjardins made 24 saves in the loss.
Luke Adam was named the game’s No.1 star.
NOTES: Scratches for the Pirates were defenseman TJ Brennan (illness) and rookie forward Corey Tropp (healthy)… The Admirals have two players with Maine ties as former Pirate Chris Durno, who played 12 games with the Pirates during the 2006-’07 season and former Maineiac Stefano Giliati, who was listed as a healthy scratch… The game enlisted the use of two officials, a first for the Pirates, as the AHL has begun the process of transitioning to a two-referee system like the one used in the NHL. The AHL plans to use two officials in 25% of the games this season.