It took the Portland Pirates two periods of play, but they finally broke through by scoring a pair of goals in the third period to defeat the lowly Adirondack Phantoms, 2-1, before 3,284 at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday night.
It was the first time since Nov. 10-13 (4-2 vs. Springfield, 5-2 vs. Albany) the Pirates have won back-to-back games in regulation.
The game remained scoreless until midway into the second period when Luke Pither scored the lone goal for Adirondack, putting the Pirates in the position of coming-from-behind for the second consecutive game.
With the Pirates beginning the final period on a power play, Paul Byron only needed 21 seconds to bring the game even at 1-1 when he grabbed a deflection in front of the net, whistling a shot by Phantoms goaltender Michael Leighton.
Leighton, who spent part of the 2006-’07 season with the Pirates, was playing in his fourth game with the Phantoms on a reconditioning assignment the Philadelphia Flyers as he continues to rehab from back surgery.
At 8:35, the Pirates killed off a high-sticking penalty by defenseman Drew Schiestel and as he came out of the box, he ripped a pass to Derek Whitmore to set up an odd man rush.
Whitmore drilled the shot by Leighton to score his eight goal of the season, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Leighton stopped 28 of 30 shots in the loss, while Pirates goaltender Jhonas Enroth took the win by also making 28 saves on the night.
The win by Portland sets up a battle for first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division after the Manchester Monarchs fell to the Connecticut Whale, 5-1. The Pirates will play their next three games against the Monarchs, wrapping up with a game at the Cumberland County Civic Center next Saturday.