Maine Hockey Journal

Old Pirate comes back to haunt former team

Portland, ME – Nathan Gerbe and Aaron Slattengren returned to the lineup tonight for the Portland Pirates, but it didn’t help them on the scoreboard as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Norfolk Admirals in front of 4,511 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night.

It was the Admirals first win against the Pirates this season and their first at the CCCC since Feb 24, 2008.

Former Pirate Mike McKenna was a game-changer for the Admirals, making 34 saves on 36 shots, earning the first star of the game.

“He has that ability to win a game now and then and yeah he played well,” said Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen.

McKenna spent last season with the Pirates and was a big part of their success when the goalie carousel was in full swing under the Anaheim Ducks organization, the Pirates former affiliate. In 41 games played for the Pirates, McKenna went 24-13-0-1 with a 2.72 GAA and .908 save percentage.

“It doesn’t matter who the parent organization is,” said McKenna. “It’s my old team and my old barn and it was a city I really enjoyed.”

The Pirates opened the scoring with a power play goal at 14:10 of the first period on a goal from Mark Mancari, his 14th of the season.

Marc-Andre Gragnani slipped the puck to Mancari, who ripped the one-timer by McKenna for the 1-0 lead.

Just 1:41 later with the Pirates on a power play, Norfolk tied the game when Chris Lawrence was credited with a shorthanded goal that deflected off a Pirate, beating Jhonas Enroth from the left face off circle.

The Pirates, for much of the game, couldn’t muster any type of sustained offense as the Admiral did a good job clearing the puck out of the zone and allowing McKenna to make the save.

“We didn’t play well,” said Dineen. There’s no if’s or but’s, we felt like that was a team we matched up well against.”

“We were excited about the game, but we didn’t look like we were ready to pay the price to win.”

The lack of energy from the Pirates offense would cost them early in the second period when Norfolk took a 2-1 lead on a goal from Mike Lundin, who blasted a bullet from the high slot, beating Enroth for the power play goal at 1:24 of the second period.

“It just not a matter of (Gerbe and Slattengren in the lineup), but all 20 guys in the lineup,” Dineen said. “I don’t think we responded very well to a challenge that I thought we were ready for.”

The Pirates would capitalize on a scrum in front of McKenna midway through the second period, trying to get back into the game as Marc-Andre Gragnani, snapped a quick shot into an open net at 11:06 of the period.

Only a short time later, Steve Downie gave the Admirals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as he redirected Chris Gratton’s shot past Enroth for the 3-2 lead at 12:57 of the second period.

“We had three days off and you’d like to think we were well rested, but guys didn’t look it,” said Dineen.

Fortunately, the Pirates have another chance this weekend, as they will play the Springfield Falcons at home on Sunday afternoon. A team that has been plagued by call-ups and injuries as they have only won twice in their last 10 games, going 2-7-1-0

NOTES: The Buffalo Sabres beat the Boston Bruins, 4-2 this afternoon on a pair of goals from former Pirate Matt Ellis.

Ellis also had an assist on Paul Gaustad’s goal in the second period. In 12 games with the Pirates, Ellis has two goals and two assists for four points.

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