Last night, the Pirates failed to keep a lead in the third period against the Worcester Sharks, needing OT for the victory, but tonight Matt Watkins scored in the third period to give the Pirates a 3-1 victory over the Sharks, sweeping the home-and-home series in front of 3,597 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
The win by Portland extended their point streak to seven games (6-0-1) as they are one point behind several teams for a playoff spot.
The Pirates opened the scoring midway into the first period when Pirates’ captain Dean Arsene fired a rocket from the right point that deflected by Sharks’ netminder Tyson Sexsmith, giving the Pirates the lead, 1-0.
With 2:48 remaining in the period, Worcester tied the game at one goal apiece when Nathan Moon got to a rebound from the top of the crease, shoveling it by Pirates’ goalie Curtis McElhinney.
It would be the last goal allowed by McElhinney, stopping 29 shots as he’s improved to 4-0-1 in his last five starts, with a 2.10GAA and a .935 save percentage, which is far better than his 4.73GAA with a .869 save percentage over his previous nine starts to start the season.
He stopped 44 of 47 shots Friday night as the Pirates won, 4-3, in overtime.
“(McElhinney) has certainly been good in net lately,” said Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards prior to the game. “He seems to thrive in those situations. (Worcester) throws a lot of pucks at the net and he’s been able to keep them out.”
Brett MacLean made it 2-1 for the Pirates after finishing off a cross-ice feed from rookie forward Andy Miele for the power-play goal at 15:14 of the second period.
Miele recorded two assists on the night, giving him 20 points (7g, 13a) on the season and moving him into second place in rookie scoring only three points behind Cory Conacher of the Norfolk Admirals.
At 4:14 of the third period, Matt Watkins scored his fourth of the season, roofing a shot upstairs under the crossbar on Sexsmith, giving the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
Sexsmith finished the night with 28 saves on 31 shots in the loss.
Portland went 1-for-7 with the power play, while Worcester was 0-for-7.
NOTES: With Pirates goaltender Justin Pogge returning to the lineup from injury the Pirates assigned Marc Cheverie to the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. Cheverie played one game in relief of McElhinney at the start of the point streak, stopping all 17 shots he faced…. The Pirates made other moves on the day recalling Spencer Bennett from Gwinnett to replace Jordan Szwarz, who was injured in a fight on Friday against Worcester. He is listed day-to-day…. Phoenix Coyotes beat writer for the Arizona Republic Jim Gintonio reported that forward Kyle Turris will not be reporting to Portland for a conditioning stint and will stay with the Coyotes through at least next weekend.