The last two games have seen the Portland Pirates come from behind against the high-powered offense of the Norfolk Admirals as Marc-Andre Gragnani scored the winning goal just 65 seconds into overtime to give the Pirates a 7-6 win at the Norfolk Scope on Saturday night.
In the last two games, Portland and Norfolk have combined for 24 goals.
With 5:06 to play in the game, Pirates defenseman Drew Schiestel sent a blast by Admirals’ goalie Dustin Tokarski to tie the game at 6-6, which finished a flurry of goals as both teams scored a combined six goals in a span of 5:18, including four goals by the Pirates.
The Pirates were down by a two-goal deficit three times in the game – 4-2, 5-3 & 6-4 – but showed that they never quit by battling back to send the game into overtime.
Just 65 seconds into the extra session, Marc-Andre Gragnani stepped into a shot, ripping it by Tokarski for improbable comeback.
Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen has been critical about defensive coverage of the Pirates for the last couple of weeks referring to their style of hockey as something more like “riverboat gambling” or “going all in” on a poker hand and it appeared that way again through 50 minutes of play.
Derek Whitmore started the semi-quasi comeback for the Pirates when he scored a four-on-four goal at 9:36 of the third period to pull Portland to within a goal at 4-3. However, just 27 seconds later James Wright scored to give the two-goal lead back to the Admirals.
That was followed up by a goal from Colin Stuart only 26 seconds later to again pull Portland back within a goal at 5-4. The goal extended Stuart’s points-scoring streak to five games.
Less than minute later, Norfolk struck back on a goal by Johan Harju and it looked the Pirates might head on to Charlotte with a split against the Admirals.
Jhonas Enroth’s night came to an end after allowing six goals on 35 shots in favor of David Leggio.
Leggio, who has won his first three games of the season, came in relief and provided the Pirates with the spark they needed to mount the comeback as Travis Turnbull scored at the 12:59 mark of the third period.
Turnbull paced the Pirates offense with a goal and three assists on the night.
Prior to the game it was a question mark if the Pirates would lose some of their offensive production after rookie forward Luke Adam was recalled to Buffalo to replace an injured Nathan Gerbe, who suffered a fractured jaw in last night’s game against Atlanta.
Adam had a three point night (1G, 2A) in Friday’s game against Norfolk and was leading all rookies in the AHL scoring with seven goals and six assists for 13 points.
The Pirates actually took a 1-0 lead on a goal by forward Mark Mancari at the 3:27 mark of the first period. A turnover by the Admirals at the far blueline, led to a two-on-zero by Mancari and Paul Byron, who sent a cross-ice pass back to Mancari where he rang a shot of the iron and into the net.
At 5:36, Paul Szczechura found the back of the net for Norfolk, picking up the rebound at the top of the crease and beating Enroth.
The Admirals had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play on Mathieu Roy’s goal at 13:27 of the first period.
Whitmore persistent play in front of Tokarski led to his second goal of the night to pull the Pirates even, 2-2, early in the second period.
Norfolk held a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of play on goals by Juraj Simek and Matt Fornataro.
Leggio earned his fourth win the season to remain unbeaten (4-0-0), stopping all five shots he faced in his 9:37 of action. Dustin Tokarski allowed seven goals on 27 shots in the loss, which was his first of the season.
Portland went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Admirals were 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
NOTES: Corey Tropp was a healthy scratch for the second straight game as Dineen dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen… Announced attendance at the Scope was 3,039… The Pirates will have two days off before playing a pair of games in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Charlotte Checkers before heading back to Maine.