Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored the game-winning goal in the shootout as the Pirates defeated the Worcester Sharks, 3-2, before 4,022 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates (27-25-3-3), despite giving up a point to the Sharks, moved up a position into 10th-place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference standings with 60 points, only a point behind the Sharks and Manchester Monarchs for the eighth and final playoff position. Only seven points separate seventh through 14th in the conference.
“We got the extra point so we’ll take the positives out of it,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards. “I hate giving up the point, but we got the extra point. If we didn’t we would have been really disappointed.”
The Pirates were in the position to get the win in regulation, but forward Tim Kennedy, the once former Pirate, who has had a knack for scoring against his former club (6g, 4a in 10 games), recorded his second goal of the game with only 11.2 seconds left on the clock in the third period.
“Thankfully, he didn’t totally get us,” said Edward referring the Kennedy missing a 3-on-1 in overtime and the missed shot in the shootout. “We’ve done a good job six-on-five this season. It’s the first one we’ve given up… It was a tough situation because we’re all diving, trying to block shots. “They found a way to get one.”
After a scoreless overtime, the Pirates would get goals from Mathieu Beaudoin, newly acquired forward Brett Sterling and Pouliot in the shootout for the victory. Brandon Mashinter scored the lone goal for the Sharks.
This was the first game for forwards Brett Sterling and Kenndal McArdle since being acquired by the Pirates on the loan, and both paid dividends, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
“They both scored and we found a way to win,” said Edwards. “It’s nice when they make an impact right away. They feel like their apart of the team and we’re going to need them down the stretch. One of first things that (McArdle) said to me on the phone was ‘I was prepared for the playoffs. (Portland) is making the playoffs’ and that’s what you want, right?”
McArdle, who was acquired along with goaltender Peter Mannino from the St. John’s IceCaps for Brock Trotter, scored the lone goal of the first period for his first goal with the Pirates as he played on a line with Alexandre Bolduc and Matt Watkins.
McArdle, parked in the slot, took a pass from behind the net pass by Bolduc, snapping a quick shot by Worcester goalie Tyson Sexsmith at the 8:58 mark of the period.
“(The trade) wasn’t really something I was expecting,” said McArdle. “I’m happy that I can come in here and contribute in any way that I can and I was really happy with our line. Once we start clicking I think we can be effective in any role that we’re given.”
“I want to complete player. I want to be a utility player and guy that can step into any role. First and foremost, I want to be a hard worker and it’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”
“That line was our best line tonight,” said Edwards referring to McArdle, Bolduc and Watkins. “They had the most offensive zone time and they killed penalties and all made an impact in the game. That’s our identity line. This is the line we should be able to put up against any top line in the AHL and they’ll be good.”
Sterling made it 2-0 in the second period with his first goal as a Pirate – his 23rd of the season – tipping Brett MacLean’s cross-ice pass into the net for a power-play goal at 10:30 of the second period.
Sterling was acquired from the Peoria Rivermen in exchange for disgruntled forward Patrick O’Sullivan.
“It’s been a whirlwind the last 24 hours,” said Sterling. “It’s another game. I was in the playoff push with Peoria and I’ve come to the same thing here.” The good thing for me is I’m playing with a guy like (Andy) Miele and (Brett) MacLean and I’ve played against (MacLean) in San Antonio so I know he’s a great player.”
Kennedy pulled the Sharks back to within a goal, 2-1, snapping Pogge’s shutout bid late into the second period, scoring with 23 seconds left in the period.
Pogge trying to clear out the puck put it on the stick of Kennedy and he made it count with a wrist shot from the left circle.
With 6:11 left in the game, the Sharks and Pirates were involved in a melee that resulted in Andy Miele and Curt Gogol fighting, which left Edwards less than impressed with the Worcester coaching staff as tempers flared.
Miele held his own, winning the fight against 6-0ft, 185-pound Gogol, but Edwards said, while he’s impress with Miele’s tenacity, it should have never come to that.
“You love him for doing that,” said Edwards, but we can’t have him doing that. We can’t have him having to fight that guy. (Mark) Louis was fighting, but we can’t have that. We may have to address that issue to get somebody. We can’t have teams going after our skilled players.”
“We can’t put up with that stuff and that was the frustration for me. I played that role of (enforcer) my whole life and I would never have gone after a (skilled) player like that. (Gogol) went right at him when there were five other guys on the ice. He grabbed him, five other guys and he grabbed Andy Miele. That’s wrong.”
Pogge finished the game with 34 saves, while Sexsmith stopped 18 of 20 shots on the night.