Tanner Pearson scored a pair of power-play goals in less than a three minute span as the Manchester Monarchs erased a two-goal deficit to defeat the Pirates, 6-4, in front of 4,969 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“It eerily resembled our last road game in Adirondack,” said Pirates’ coach Ray Edwards. “We’re playing a pretty good game through 30 or 40 minutes and we ended up giving them back the momentum through penalties, again. We’re learning some hard lessons that way. It’s something that we’re going to have to figure out.”
Portland held a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Chris Conner and Alexandre Bolduc.
Bolduc struck only 44 seconds into the period with a laser labeled for the upper right corner. Rob Klinkhammer was credited with an assist.
The Pirates were outshot thoroughly through 15 minutes of the period, 10-2, but capitalized with a power-play goal from Chris Conner, his third of the season, as he redirected Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot from the point at 16:25 of the first period. It’s Ekman-Larsson’s fifth point (3G, 2A) in three games for the Pirates.
The second period brought back some bad habits as the Pirates took five minors penalties, which included giving up a five-on-three.
The Monarchs capitalized by scoring twice with the man advantage to even the game, and likely could have put away another if it wasn’t for the solid goaltending of Chad Johnson, who finished the game with 30 saves.
“(Manchester) has some talented guys out there,” Edwards said. “The momentum changes and when that happens, you start running around and begin to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. We made a few errors on our penalty kill. We have to sort of be able to get a hold that and we didn’t do a very good job tonight.”
Pearson, a first round pick (30th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, scored his first on the power play at the 13:08 mark, catching a piece of defenseman David Kolomatis’ shot from the right point to cut into the Pirates’ lead, 2-1.
At 15:37, with Brandon Shinnimin in the box for slashing, Pearson struck again, tipping Kolomatis’ shot by Johnson to even game, 2-2.“It’s a matter of understand that a lot of penalties that we’re taking is because we’re not moving our feet so we’re on the wrong side of (the play),” said Edwards. “We’ve got to start moving our feet. Both games, we’ve taken penalties in bunches and lost total momentum of the game.”
Conner added his fourth goal in the last two days only 33 seconds later on a breakaway, putting the Pirates back out front, 3-2, with 3:50 remaining in the period.
Less than two minutes later, Manchester evened the score again as Slava Voynov wired a shot from the right circle past Johnson.
“The first 10 minutes (of the second period) went the way we wanted it too and then we ran into penalty trouble,” said Edwards. “Chris (Conner) got the go ahead goal after we gave up a couple (power play goals) and that was a big lift, but we gave them right back in penalties.”
Tyler Toffoli took a high-sticking penalty at the end of the second period, followed by Monarchs’ captain Marc-Andre Cliché, who was whistled for hooking 29 seconds into the third period.
Instead of the Pirates taking advantage of special teams play, it was the Monarchs who exploited the Pirates power play with a shorthanded goal as Toffoli took a feed from Andrew Campbell, springing free on a breakaway, beating Johnson at the 2:08 mark of the third period to put the Monarchs out front, 4-3.
Linden Vey gave the Monarch a two-goal cushion midway into the third period with his second goal of the season.
Brandon Shinnimin pulled the Pirates to within a goal with 6:35 to play in the game with his first professional goal, snapping a wrist shot by Jones in the slot.
Andrei Loktionov scored an empty-net goal with 18.1 seconds left in the game.
“It’s not a great feeling,” said Edwards. “You have to find a way to keep fighting, which I liked, but that’s a big part of the game, that five-on-three. We didn’t get anything and we gave up the shorthanded goal. Special teams played a big roll and we lost that battle.”