Jordan Szwarz, Evan Brophey and Brendan Shinnimin stepped up their game, each posted three points on the night as the Portland Pirates found a way to win despite missing several key players in the lineup to earn a 6-3 victory on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before 5,067 at the Webster Bank Arena.
The Pirates were missing five regulars out of its lineup after being recalled by the Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the week as the NHL lockout came to end after 119 days. Defensemen Bryce Lampman and Russ Sinkewich, who were signed to PTO’s by Portland on Friday, were in the lineup.
The Pirates are now 22-12-1-1 with 46 points on the season and are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division, and tied for second with the Springfield Falcons in the AHL’s Eastern Conference after winning 12 of their last 14 games.
Portland trailed the Sound Tigers after the first period on goals by Casey Cizikas and Blair Riley as they scored in the final 2:40 of the period to take a 2-0 lead.
At 3:13 of the second period, the Pirates got one back as a falling Chris Brown, in the right faceoff circle, slid a backhander to Evan Brophey, streaking into the slot, snapping a shot by Bridgeport goalie Kevin Poulin for his fourth goal of the season.
Rob Klinkhammer tied the game, 2-2, at the eight minute mark with a nice second effort after cutting through the middle, taking the initial shot on the goal, and reaching back, getting to the rebound from behind the net as the puck sat momentarily at the right post.
The Pirates took its first lead of the game, 3-2, scoring on its only power play of the game, finishing 1-for-1, as Jordan Szwarz stole the puck from Poulin and defenseman Aaron Ness behind the net, beating the goaltender on a wrap around at the left post at the 12:26 mark of the second period.
Just over a minute later, the Sound Tigers scored when former Pirate Matt Watkins, who spent the 2011-12 season in Portland, tipped a shot by Pirates’ goalie Mark Visentin, who finished the game with 39 saves for his sixth straight win.
Portland regained the lead, 4-3, with a second left on the game clock in the second period as Phil Lane, stepping out of the penalty box after serving a two-minute minor for tripping, scored his second goal of the season on a breakaway, snapping the water bottle on a shot past Poulin.
Rookie Brendan Shinnimin continued his point-scoring streak (4g, 3a) with a goal in the third period, racing around the end boards, firing a wrist shot by Poulin just inside the right circle at 4:28 to grab a two-goal lead, 5-3.
Szwarz added his second goal of the game with an empty-netter with 1:12 left in the contest.