Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates lose important opportunity in playoff race

Hartford, Conn. – The Portland Pirates did themselves no favors on Wednesday night as they were down by two goals at the end of the first period en route to a 5-3 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack before 2,245 at the XL Center.

By the seven-minute mark of the first period, the Pirates gave up two goals, finding themselves needing to dig out of a hole.

“We just seemed to be a little scrambled right from warm ups,” said Pirates coach Kevin Dineen.

At 1:41, Vladimir Denisov, in the slot, drilled home the rebound given up by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth as he tried to make the stop on Jordan Owens’ shot from the top of the left face off circle.

At 7:00, Brodie Dupont tipped Brian Fahey’s blast from the right point by Enroth as the Pirates just couldn’t find their legs.

“We have to start better,” said Pirates’ forward Mark Mancari. “Second period we played a great game, but it’s a broken record. We play two periods well and one bad period cost us the game.”

“We’ve got to play more consistent.”

The Pirates settled down in the second period, but fell down 3-0 when they gave up a shorthanded goal to Mark Bell just three minutes into the second period.

Artem Anisimov racing down the left wing drew Marc-Andre Gragnani out of the play, sliding the puck to Bell, who buried it past Enroth.

“That’s just sloppy hockey to give up a goal in your own zone,” said Dineen.

Despite giving up the goal, it was a well played period by the Pirates as they limited the Wolf Pack to only three shots in the period to pull back to within a goal after 40 minutes of play.

A short time later after Bell’s shorthanded goal, Marek Zagrapan picked off a bad pass by former Pirate Pierre Parenteau, deking Hartford netminder Matt Zaba to the left, sliding the puck behind him to the cut into the three goal lead at 6:42 of the second period, 3-1.

It was Zagrapan’s 20th goal of the season, setting personal best in goals (20), assists (25) and points (45) in the final year of his entry-level contract.

At 16:08, the Pirates made it a one-goal game on the power play when Colin Murphy from the left post, skated to the front of the net and stuffed the puck between the legs of Zaba, cutting into the Wolf Pack’s lead, 3-2.

“We showed good signs of coming back and being resilient, but we need to look at our mistakes and figure out how to keep them from happening,” said Pirates’ forward Nathan Gerbe.

In the third period, a total collapse by the Pirates led to two quick goals, forty-seconds apart, by the Wolf Pack to regain their three-goal lead.

Wolf Pack forward Jordan Owens scored at 4:45 of the third period as he drove to the front of the net from the left face off circle, beating Enroth between the legs, giving the Wolf Pack a 4-2 lead.

At 5:25, Devin DiDiomete scored his fourth of the season when his backhand shot trickled across the goal line as the Wolf Pack, extended their lead to 5-2.

“When two quick ones are scored against you, a lot of stuff goes through your head, but I thought we stuck with it and we didn’t quit,” said Mancari.

“No one in the room quit and I think that’s important.”

Midway into the period, the Pirates notched their second power play goal of the night as Tim Kennedy took the feed from Dennis Persson and ripped a quick shot through a screen, beating Zaba as the Pirates made 5-3 with 8:36 left to play.

The Pirates’ power play continued to click as they went 2-for-5 on the night and have scored a power play goal in nine of their last 10 games, going 14-for-47 with the man advantage.

“We pushed in the last ten minutes, but a three-goal lead is hard to overcome,” said Dineen. We’re always looking at encouraging signs. We take some positives away and few snapshots of the game and (we) need to look at things we need to work on.”

This has not been a good season for the Pirates when it comes to the Hartford Wolf Pack as they’ve lost seven of eight meetings, falling 1-4-2-1, this season.

The loss by the Pirates left them in a tie with the Sharks for third place after they won tonight against the Springfield Falcons, 3-2, in overtime. The Sharks currently hold the tie-breaker against the Pirates as they enter the next to final weekend of the season. More bad news for the Pirates as they also found themselves only a point ahead the Manchester Monarchs after they defeated the Lowell Devils 3-2 in a shootout.

“The only thing we can control is us and win our games,” said Mancari. “I think we know we have to win five of our next six.”

“(We) lose and another team wins and it changes the standings overnight.”

NOTES: Earlier today, Matt Generous was signed to a one-year entry-level deal by the Buffalo Sabres. A seventh round draft pick (#204 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, he finished his collegiate career with St. Lawrence University where he played four seasons with 56 points in 139 games. He was named as the ECAC Outstanding Defensive Defenseman this past season. He’ll finish the year with the Pirates on an ATO as he contract will take effect next season.

Also today, the AHL announced their All-Rookie team and Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy were named to the roster.

Kennedy leads all rookies in assists (43) and points (59) in 66 games and was named the AHL Rookie of the Month for February.

“This is pretty cool,” said Kennedy. It’s been nice because (Gerbe) and I have spent a lot of time on the same line and lot of our chemistry goes back to Buffalo summer camps.”

Gerbe currently leads all rookies in goals scored with 26 goals and is fifth in AHL rookie scoring with 50 points (26g, 24a) in 51 games.

“This is a fun award to share with Timmy,” said Gerbe. “I’ve been lucky to be apart of (Tim’s) line most of the season and that’s helped out a lot.”

Both should receive considerable consideration for the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award for outstanding rookie in the AHL. The announcement for the award will be made on Wed., Apr. 8.

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