Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates gain ground, but lose that winning feeling

Springfield, Mass. – At least it was a point, but that still doesn’t give much comfort to the Portland Pirates. After being held to just 11 shots after two periods of play, the Pirates would get a pair of special team goals from Nathan Gerbe and Marc-Andre Gragnani, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Springfield Falcons, prevailed in the shootout, for the 3-2 win on Friday night.

The Pirates, who had the week off after playing four games in five nights, started another string of four games in five nights, all on the road, and were looking to begin on a solid note.

At 5:32 of the first period, the Falcons would jump out the 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Bryan Lerg, his fifth of the season. Pirates’ defenseman Mike Weber, who was just assigned to Portland by Buffalo earlier in the day, was called for interference at 4:30 of the period. Lerg capitalized when the Pirates’ shorthanded attempt failed as he buried the puck by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth for the early lead.

It was a lead that held up for nearly 45 minutes as the Falcons pressed Portland all night, however, Enroth stood on his head making 30 saves on 32 shots, giving the Pirates a chance to stay in the game.

At 9:23 of the third period, Nathan Gerbe finally beat Falcons’ goalie Devan Dubnyk as he finished off a tic-tac-toe play from Tim Kennedy and Chris Butler. With Portland on an extended five-on-three, Butler found Kennedy at the left post who didn’t waste any time getting the puck to Gerbe for the one-timer into the wide-open net with six seconds left on the two-man advantage.

Less than two minutes later, Springfield regained the lead when Derek Bekar picked up Carl Corazzini’s shot from the right faceoff circle, putting it by Enroth to re-establish the 2-1 lead.

Marc-Andre Gragnani scored his first goal since Oct. 25 in a game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when he picked up a shorthanded goal at 13:24 of the third period. Felix Schutz would set up the play when he and Gragnani broke away for a two-on-one. Schutz sent a nifty pass to Gragnani, who blistered a one-timer by Dubnyk, tying the game at 2-2.

The game remained tied for the rest of the third, but Portland certainly has their chances, outshooting the Falcons 16-6.

After a scoreless OT, Springfield would get goals from Ryan Potulny, Viacheslav Trukhno and Carl Corazzini as Dubnyk stopped all but Nathan Gerbe’s attempt in the shootout.

NOTES: With the single point, the Pirates move back into a first place tie with the Providence Bruins who lost to the Lowell Devils, 3-1. Paul Baier was a healthy scratch for Portland as Matt MacDonald was inserted into the lineup. Jimmy Bonneau didn’t make the trip and will be out for four-to-six weeks with a broken hand. Mike Card sustained a concussion when he was hit in the face with a puck back on Nov. 15. He’s hasn’t been on the ice since the injury and is listed as out indefinitely. There is no timetable for his return. Portland will take on the Lowell Devils tomorrow night for the first time this season at Tsongas Arena. The last time the Pirates played Lowell, the Devils came out with a 5-1 drubbing at the Cumberland County Civic Center

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