Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates down the Phantoms, 5-3, to win fifth straight

Portland, ME – Whether it’s at home or away or the offense is coming from a veteran or rookie, the Portland Pirates keep finding ways to win. This time it was Mathieu Darche who scored a pair of third period goals as the Pirates went on for a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms before a crowd of 4,584 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.

Going into the game, the Pirates last lost in regulation back on October 19, in a 4-1 loss the Providence Bruins. Since that time, the Pirates have won five straight games including seven of their last eight, taking a total of 15 out of 16 points as they continue to click on all cylinders.

“We’re sticking to the plan and ideas and we’re creating a lot of room on the ice and creating opportunities for everybody,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Mancari.

It was a back-and-forth game for the first 40 minutes as both teams traded goals.

Portland, on the powerplay, opened the scoring at 5:16 of the first period when Tim Kennedy found the back of the net, beating former Pirates’ netminder J.S. Aubin.

Kennedy, in the slot, snapped a quick shot that bobbled over the top of Aubin into the net as the Pirates grabbed a 1-0 lead. Earning assists on the play were Mancari and Nathan Gerbe.

It was the 10th time this season the Pirates has scored first in the game, improving to 8-1-1 on the season when they tally the first goal.

The lead lasted less than three minutes as the Phantoms tied the game 1-1 when Claude Giroux, the Flyers first round selection (#22 overall) in the ’06 NHL Entry Draft, scored his fourth of season picking up the loose puck on the rebound and sending a backhand shot by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth.

At 7:14 of the second period, the Pirates would re-take the lead, 2-1, as Aaron Slattengren scored his second goal as a Pirate since signing an AHL contract with Portland. Slattengren, unaware he scored until his teammates congratulated him, threw the puck on net from about two feet behind the goal line with a blind backhand shot, catching Aubin completely off-guard.

Again, the lead didn’t last long in this seesaw battle as Jared Ross scored a shorthanded goal from the slot at 9:56 of the period, beating Enroth on a goal he wished he had back.

“I’m happy with the win, but not with how I played,” said Enroth. “I really wished I had two of those goals back, but we took the two points and that’s the most important thing.”

In the third period, Portland came out with renewed sense of urgency and energy, buzzing the Phantom for the first 12 minutes of the period.

“We were ok with the first two periods, not really happy with them,” said Mancari. “But, we told ourselves that we have a couple off days upcoming and let’s make the third period be our best period of the weekend.”

Mancari tallied his second of four points on the night, earning an assist on Mathieu Darche first goal of the night, coming at 2:54 of the period. Skating down the ice without his lid, Mancari faked a slapshot before passing to Darche streaking down the opposite wing for the open net tap-in past Aubin.

At 5:12, Darche scored his second goal of the night with a real workman like effort. After having a couple of close in chances of his own, Darche worked the puck out to Mancari, who corralled the puck, feeding a cross-ice pass to Darche, parked at the right post to give the Pirates a 4-2 lead.

With the Pirates, seemingly in control, Mike Weber was called for holding with five minutes left in the game. Apparently not happy with the call, he began to argue with referee Frederic L’Ecuyer, who then called him for an unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Phantoms a four-minute power play.

With 1:11 left in the man advantage, the Phantoms pulled within a goal as Jonathan Matsumoto beat Enroth on the left post at 17:39 of the third period.

Weber still dissatisfied with L’Ecuyer came out of the box and began to argue the previous call.

L’Ecuyer not wanting to listen sent Weber right back to the penalty box for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the fifth ranked Phantoms yet another power play for the remainder of the game.

At 19:35, with the Phantoms skating 6-on-4, Mancari sent a long ice shot into the empty net for his ninth goal of the season, putting the Pirates up for good, 5-3.

Mancari now leads the AHL in scoring with 22 points.

“My number one issue was my skating and I want to keep working on that and continue to improve,” he said. “I spent the summer working on my defensive game and really learned how to be reliable defensively and so far things have really worked out on both sides of the puck.”

Jhonas Enroth, getting his fourth start in five games stopped 16 of 19 shots on the night.

NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Buffalo Sabres announced that Matt Ellis was assigned to the Portland Pirates, Sabres AHL affiliate, after clearing waivers on Saturday afternoon. It was reported on Maine Hockey Journal on Friday night that Ellis was claimed by Los Angeles, after speaking with Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen and would most likely be assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. That is obviously incorrect as we now know and it was a misunderstanding by all parties involved. Maine Hockey Journal apologizes for any inconvenience this had caused

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