The DCU Center hasn’t been a friendly place this season for the Portland Pirates, but they found a way to get the win as Luke Adam scored in the shootout, giving the Pirates a 5-4 victory over the Worcester Sharks in front of 3,407 in attendance.
The Pirates, who built a 3-0 lead after two periods of play, had to battle back to tie the game in the closing seconds as Mark Mancari found the back of the net to record his second hat trick in consecutive games.
Mancari extended his point streak to 11 games with 19 points (12G, 7A), which includes seven goals, two assists in just the last three games, and extending his lead as the AHL’s leading goal-scorer with his 26th goal on the season.
Mancari’s character shined through as his back-to-back hat tricks comes after Paul Byron and Matt Ellis were recalled to the Buffalo Sabres to replace a rash of injuries.
“(Mancari) went out there and took an attitude that I’m going to show you, and went out there and played better,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Parrish. “You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
With Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth off in favor of the extra attacker, the game-tying goal came with 28 seconds left in the game amidst a scrum around the net when Mancari found the loose puck at the side crease, drilling a shot past Sharks’ netminder Alex Stalock.
In the shootout, Corey Tropp scored giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead before Luke Adam sealed the win with a shot over the glove hand of Stalock. Enroth stopped all four shooters he faced as he finished with 32 saves on the night.
Portland opened the scoring in the first period with Mancari’s first of the game, redirecting a feed from Pirates linemate Dennis McCauley, beating Stalock from the side of the net.
Dennis Persson made it 2-0 for the Pirates midway into the first period when he let a rising slapshot from to the point, beating Stalock thought traffic for the power play goal.
At 15:31 of the second period, Mancari scored the lone goal of the period, his second of the night, when he intercepted a play from Sharks’ forward Steven Zalewski for the breakaway, firing a low wrist shot by Stalock extending the Pirates lead to 3-0 and apparently in control heading into the third period.
That turned out not to be the case as Worcester, who statistically a poor third period team, stormed back to score four goals in the span of 6:39, starting with Matt Irwin’s ninth of the season at 6:31 of the period.
Prior to tonight, the Pirates had outscored the Sharks 14-6 in the third period.
At 9:50, Nick Schaus found the back of the net while Worcester was on the power play, followed up by former Pirate defenseman Jay Leach at 12:17 of the third period when he swiped at the rebound, beating Enroth from the edge of the crease to tie the game at 3-3.
Only 53 seconds later, the Sharks responded when Andrew Desjardins connected on a one-timer from the top of the circle past Enroth, giving the Sharks their first lead in the game.
The Pirates (25-13-4-1) coupled with the Manchester Monarchs (27-16-1-3) shootout loss to the Providence Bruins are now in sole possession of first place, a spot where they spent the majority early season, by one point.
Mancari, who will be given strong consideration for AHL player of the week, is now in third period in the AHL scoring race with 51 points (26G, 25A) in 42 games.
NOTES: Paul Byron played in his first NHL game today for the Buffalo Sabres as they handed the NY Islanders a 5-3 defeat. Byron earned his first NHL point with an assist on Tyler Myers goal in the third period. Byron played a total of 21 shifts for 14:30 of total ice time.