Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates Value the Point

Lowell, MA – At this time of the season, it’s all about points.

The Portland Pirates earned a very valuable point against the Lowell Devils as they prevailed in a shootout 4-3 in front of a sparse crowd of 1,493 at Tsongas Arena.

Heading into this critical match-up, the Pirates were seven points back of fourth-place Lowell for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. With the win in the shootout both teams earned a point, but the Pirates earned an extra point pulling within six points of the Devils as both teams play four more times this season.

The win also setup an opportunity for the Pirates to make up further ground on the Devils as they have three-games in hand and will make up one of those games on Saturday night in Binghamton, NY.

A loss would have meant disaster to the Pirates playoff hopes.

The Pirates jumped to an early 1-0 lead as Geoff Peters picked the pocket of Devils’ goaltender Frank Doyle from behind the net and made his way to the front, whipping a wrist shot by a scrambling Doyle at 3:26 of the first period. Doug O’Brien was later credited with an assist on the play.

The Devils countered with two-quick goals only 56 seconds apart as the Devils gained a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Mike Pandolfo scored his third of the year when stole the puck off the stick of Pirates’ defenseman Aaron Rome, snapping a shot from the far-side boards, beating Pirates’ goaltender Sebastien Caron through the five-hole at 4:54 of the first period.

At 5:50, the Pirates gave up an odd-man rush to Chris Minard, Devils leading scorer, and Ryan Murphy. Minard skated down the far wing, sending a cross-ice pass to Murphy in slot, who deflected the puck past Caron as the Devils pulled in front with a 2-1 lead.

The Pirates had their power play clicking, as they would go 2-for-3 on the evening including the tying goal by Matt Keith in the second period. With Mike Pandolfo serving two minutes for hooking, Bjorn Melin dished the puck to Keith, who batted the puck by Doyle as he was parked in front of the Devils crease to tie the game 2-2 with 15:13 to play in the period.

Chris Minard put the Devils back out in front at the 9:49 mark of the second period as he just clipped a piece of Tomas Harant’s slap shot, beating Caron from the high-slot as the Devils regained the 3-2 lead.

In the third period, the Pirates would have a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:01 as Alex Brooks and Jason Ryznar were serving two-minutes for infractions committed. Mark Hartigan would make them pay as he sent a laser beam labeled topside, beating Doyle over his glove just 4:25 into the period.

The Pirates still carried a minute of power play time in Jason Ryznar’s holding penalty, but the Devils were able to kill off the remaining time.

In the overtime session, both teams were scoreless, but not without each team, having a solid chance to end the game, however, a shootout was needed to decide the contest.

The Pirates would succeed in the shootout as Sebastien Caron would stop the final three shooters for the Devils and the Pirates would get goals from Brian Salcido, Joe Motzko and Bjorn Melin.

The shootout win was only the Pirates second shootout win on the road as they are 2-6 in eight shootouts this season on the road. In 38 attempts by Pirates shooters only nine have scored.

Sebastien Caron stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win, while Frank Doyle faced a little more rubber, stopping 36 of 39 shots in the loss.

Plank Notes:
– The Portland Pirates reassigned Garett Bembridge and Sean Blanchard to the Augusta Lynx of the ECHL.
– Despite the win by the Pirates, they are still in sixth place of the Atlantic Division as the Worcester Sharks came from behind to beat the Hershey Bears in a shootout. The Sharks now have 73 points, three ahead of the Pirates.
– The Portland Pirates announced that Todd Nelson was inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame. Nelson, defenseman for the Pirates from 1993-95, help lead the Pirates to their first ever Calder Cup in 1993. Currently, he’s the assistant coach for the Chicago Wolves. Nelson will be honored at a pre-game celebration on April 1st.
– The Anaheim Ducks announced today they have signed draft pick Bobby Bolt to a three-year entry-level contract. Bolt, 19, has played 60 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, scoring 21 goals, 27 assists for 48 points and 70 penalty minutes. The 6-4, 216-pound native from Thunder Bay, Ontario is currently have a career season as he’s exceeded his season-highs in goals, assists and point. Bolt was drafted by Anaheim in the fifth round (127th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
– The Pirates return to action on Saturday night as they travel to Binghamton, NY to take on the Senators at Broome County Veteran Memorial Arena. Game time is 7:05pm.

Three Stars of the Game:
1. LOW – Chris Minard (1G, 1A, +2)
2. POR – Mark Hartigan (1G, GTG)
3. LOW – Mike Mottau (2A, +2)

Shots on Goal:
POR 9-14-11-5-1=40
LOW 11-8-9-2-0=30

Goals by Period:
POR 1-1-1-0-1=4
LOW 2-1-0-0-0=3

Power Play Summary:
Portland Pirates PP – 2-for-3
Lowell Devils PP – 0-for-2

Goaltender Summary:
POR – Sebastien Caron (11-8-4) 27 Saves on 30 Shots
LOW – Frank Doyle (18-20-3) 36 Saves on 39 Shots

Scoring Summary:
1. POR Peters, (6) (O’Brien), 3:26
1. LOW Pandolfo, (3) (Mottau), 4:54
1. LOW Murphy, (16) (Minard, Pihlman), 5:50
2. POR Keith, (11) (Melin, Weinrich), 4:47 (PP)
2. LOW Minard, (25) (Harant, Mottau), 9:49
3. POR Hartigan, (26) (Wilson, Motzko), 4:25 (PP)

Penalty Summary:
1 – POR Carter, 11:40 – Charging , 2 min (PP)
2 – LOW Pandolfo, 4:00 – Hooking , 2 min (PP)
2 – POR Motzko, 6:08 – Cross-checking , 2 min (PP)
3 – LOW Brooks, 2:29 – Roughing , 2 min (PP)
3 – LOW Ryznar, 3:28 – Holding , 2 min (PP)

Shootout Summary:
Portland Shootout
Mark Hartigan – No Goal
Brian Salcido – Goal
Joe Motzko – Goal
Geoff Peters – No Goal
Bjorn Melin – Goal

Total: 3

Lowell Shootout
Ryan (J.) Murphy – Goal
Grant Marshall – No Goal
Mike Mottau – No Goal
Mike Pandolfo – No Goal

Total: 1

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