Special teams very well may be the deciding factor in the outcome of the series between the Portland Pirates and Connecticut Whale.
Entering Game 3, the Pirates were 2-for-12 with the man advantage and finished the night 0-for-8 in a 3-1 loss to the Whale.
The Pirates still lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, but if the power play could have converted on just a couple of those opportunities one could argue the Pirates would be up 3-0 with a chance to put the series away on Tuesday night.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, right?
The reality of the situation is the Pirates have gone scoreless in their last 17 power play opportunities and are just 2-for-20 so far in the series with a critical Game 4 on Tuesday night in Hartford. A loss by Portland would knot the series at two games apiece, making it a best-of-three series, putting the Whale right back into the series when they were on ropes.
A win would make a lot of the uneasiness go away, heading back to Portland for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead.
“Our power play has to take a little more pride and take control of the game
when we have opportunities,” said Pirates forward Mark Parrish. “There’s not going to be too many scoring chances in this series. We’ve got to take advantage of the ones we have.”
Since his power play goal in Game 1, AHL Rookie of the Year Luke Adam has been very quiet in the series as the Whale have done an effective job at shutting down his line with Paul Byron and Mark Parrish, both on the power play and at even-strength.
“The bottom line is it gets down to outworking them, overwhelming them because we’ve got the extra guy,” said Parrish. “It’s not getting so worried about getting set up right way. We need to worry about getting control first and then worrying about setting up the play.”
The Pirates received several re-enforcements into the lineup for Game 3 as Mark Mancari and Dennis Persson were assigned to Portland by the Sabres on Sunday. With the power play looking for a spark, Mancari just looked invisible on the ice for the entire sixty minutes, going scoreless in the game. Persson logged nearly 30 minutes and finished with a minus-1 rating.