He got it as Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored a goal and added two assists as the Pirates thumped the St. John’s IceCaps, 5-1, in a must-win game before a sold out (6,287) crowd at Mile One Arena, Wednesday, in St. John’s Newfoundland.
“As disappointed as the coaches were,” said Edwards about Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss. “The players were twice as disappointed, but they were ready to play tonight. They were embarrassed from the effort last night and they responded. It was a really good game and they played excellent tonight.”
The Pirates were led by the line of Pouliot, Brett MacLean and Brett Sterling, who each recorded a goal and an assist.
“We just kept pushing the entire game,” Edwards said. “The Pouliot line was really good for us. They led us tonight. That was our best line on the ice.”
The Pirates (33-30-4-5) still remain on the outside of the playoff picture, sitting in ninth place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with 75 points, a point behind the idle Manchester Monarchs, who now have a game in hand over the Pirates.
The Pirates are 5-2-1-2 in their last 10 games, in which eight of those ten games were on the road. The Pirates have earned 13 of a possible 20 points (.650) over that span.
“We would have loved to have earned two wins here and collected all four points,” said Edwards. “We knew it was going to be tough. We knew we had to get one win here (in St. John’s). We’re still alive, fighting and clawing away. Now, we have to take care of our games at home.”
The team will fly back to Portland tonight by private charter, arriving at the Jetport between 1am and 2am. They’ll have Thursday off before playing three of their final four games of the season at the Civic Center, starting on Saturday against Worcester.
Garth Murray opened the scoring for the IceCaps five minutes into the game, but the Pirates responded, scoring three unanswered goals to hold a 3-1 lead after one period.
At 9:41, Pouliot notched his ninth goal of the season as his shot hit the left post and bounced in, beating IceCaps’ goalie Chris Carrozzi to even the game at one.
Late in the period, special teams took over for the Pirates as they scored a power-play goal and shorthanded goal just two minutes apart.
David Rundblad fired a blast from the point past Carrozzi at 16:30, which was followed by a slashing penalty to Mathieu Beaudoin a minute later.
A player from St. John’s turned the puck over to Matt Watkins, who broke free in alone on Carrozzi, slipping the puck behind him with 1:27 to play in the first period as Portland took a 3-1 lead into the locker room.
“We were down 1-0, but the work ethic was there,” said Edwards. “The leaders of the team knew we were playing well.”
The Pirates tacked on a fourth goal in the second period, extending their lead, 4-1, as Brett Sterling redirected Pouliot’s spin-around backhander by Carrozzi for his 29th goal of the season at the 8:17 mark.
Brett MacLean recorded his second point of the game with the only goal of the third period as he finished off an odd man rush after Pouliot’s initial shot hit the post at the 4:56 mark of the period.
Justin Pogge earned the start and made 26 save on 27 shots for his first victory since Mar. 4.
NOTES: The Phoenix Coyotes signed 2011 first round draft pick Connor Murphy to an amateur tryout contract and he’s expected to join the Pirates on Thursday. Murphy’s season with his junior club, Sarnia Sting, came to an end Saturday after losing in the first round of the OHL playoffs to the Saginaw Spirit. Murphy appeared in 35 games with the Sting, scoring eight goals, 18 assists for 26 points. He scored three points (1g, 2a) in six playoff games.