The Portland Pirates are 2010-’11 Atlantic Division Champions.
The Pirates didn’t make it easy on themselves over the course of the last month, but found a way to get the job done as Derek Whitmore scored in the shootout, giving the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Albany Devils before 4,349 at the Times Union Center on Saturday night.
This is the Pirates second Atlantic Division title in franchise history. They last won title in 2005-’06 when they were affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks.
It looked like the Pirates would have to wait until Sunday’s game at the Civic Center after giving up the lead less than 30 seconds into the game as John Muse, getting his first-career AHL start in net, allowed a power play goal by Matt Anderson.
At 11:44, the Pirates tied the game when Travis Turnbull, back in the lineup for the first time since a devastating shoulder injury that forced him to miss nearly four and a half months of action, scored on fluky play as he fired the puck from outside the blueline, catching former Pirate goaltender Mike McKenna off-guard.
With the Pirates forced to kill off a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Paul Byron was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway as he intercepted a pass in the Devils zone. Byron outlasted McKenna, slipping the puck between his legs for the shorthanded/penalty shot goal at the 6:11 mark of the second period to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games, and point streak to six.
Albany would tie the game at 2-2 with nine second left on the clock after Mike Hoeffel drilled a slap shot from the left point, beating Muse through a screen for their second power play goal of the game. Chad Wiseman was credited with his second assists in the game.
After a scoreless third period, and overtime, Albany struck first in the shootout on a goal Wiseman.
Paul Byron added his second of the night with shot identical to how he scored earlier in the game, beating McKenna between the legs in the fourth round of the shootout.
Ryan Ginard, who was playing only his seventh game of the season for the Devils, was stopped by Muse, which set the stage for Whitmore as he snapped a quick shot over McKenna to give the Pirates only their fourth win in their last 11 games. Three of those four wins came either by way of overtime or the shootout.
Muse in his first AHL start made 33 saves on 35 shots plus four of five shooters in the shootout, while McKenna made 23 saves in the loss.
NOTES: The Pirates will face the Connecticut Whale in the Atlantic Division Semifinal, starting with Game 1 on Thursday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Game 2 will be on Saturday night at the Civic Center before the series shifts to Hartford for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday (Apr. 17) and Tuesday (Apr. 19)… All games will be 7pm starts with the exception of Game 3, which will be a 6pm start time.
Atlantic Division Semifinal – Portland Pirates vs. Connecticut Whale
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – CCCC @ 7:00pm
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – CCCC @ 7:00pm
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – XL Center @ 6:00pm
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – XL Center @ 7:00pm
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 21 – CCCC @ 7:00pm
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 23 – XL Center @ 7:00pm
Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – CCCC @ 7:00pm