Maine Hockey Journal

Tough bounce drops Pirates in standings

Manchester, NH – Jhonas Enroth return to the net for the Portland Pirates, but the result was the same as he dropped his 10th straight start, falling to the Manchester Monarchs, 2-1, in front of 7,226 at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.

Enroth, who returned on Thursday from Buffalo where he backed up Patrick Lalime after Ryan Miller suffered a high-ankle sprain, made 22 saves in the loss, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win.

The loss certainly can’t be blamed on him.

“He’s been a big part of the success we’ve had so far and any success we’ll have in the future,” said Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen.

With the game tied 1-1, the Pirates found themselves a man short as Matt Macdonald was called for kneeing with 7:23 left in the game.

A scramble ensued in front as Monarchs’ forward Matt Moulson, who shot the puck from the right hash mark. Enroth made the save, but Marty Murray snapped a quick shot on net that deflected off Marc-Andre Gragnani into the net.

“It was a game that could have gone either way, but to have it go off a bounce like that tough to swallow,” said Enroth. “It was certainly a lucky bounce.”

The loss by the Pirates meant they now find themselves in fourth-place in the Atlantic Division as the Monarchs, with 70 points, jumped over them by a single point. The Pirates only have a two-point cushion over the Worcester Sharks, who have a game in hand on the Pirates.

The Monarchs opened the scoring with the first period winding down as Brian Boyle scored his seventh goal of the season.

Boyle, from behind the net, worked the puck to the right post where he took several whacks at the puck as it slid past Enroth with 36 seconds left in the period.

At 13:14 of the second period, the Pirates tied the game at 1-1 on solid second effort by Marek Zagrapan.

After getting hit to the ice, Zagrapan was able to work himself into the slot area where he found the puck on his stick, off a shot by Colin Murphy. Zagrapan snapped a quick shot past Monarchs’ netminder Jonathan Bernier.

“It was a really well played game by both teams,” said Dineen. “Their power play was just better than ours tonight. They capitalized on their power play chance and we didn’t.”

“Things get magnified when you get a power play with six minutes to go versus six minutes into the period, but they count the same on the scoreboard.”

NOTES: The Pirates signed defenseman Steve Ward to PTO this afternoon, giving the Pirates six defensemen. Ward played for the Reading Royal of the ECHL where he played in 39 games, scoring six goals, 18 assists for 24 points. He’s also played in 11 AHL games this season with Albany, San Antonio and Norfolk, scoring two assists. The Pirates had played the last several weeks with only five healthy defensemen as Nathan Gerbe was practicing at that position in the event he would be needed. Dineen also spoke briefly about the Clear Day roster, which is due to league by 3pm on Wednesday, March 11. Chris Butler was sent down to the Portland Pirates for about four hours on trade deadline day as part of the process to make him eligible to play in Portland after Wednesday.

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