Maine Hockey Journal

Early season woes are haunting the Pirates

Lowell, Mass. – The Portland Pirates have a lot of questions, but few answers for their early season woes.

After winning their first game of the season, 4-2, to Providence Bruins, Portland traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts for an afternoon game where they promptly laid an egg, falling 4-0 to the Devils in front of a meager crowd at Tsongas Arena.

Devils goalie Mike McKenna make a diving poke check on Pirates forward Paul Byron (Photo by Dan Hickling)

Devils goalie Mike McKenna make a diving poke check on Pirates forward Paul Byron (Photo by Dan Hickling)

“It was not a very good game,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “The game plan wasn’t very good. They scored (their) goals off the rush, and this was nothing that we haven’t seen before from this team.”

“A lot of this one hangs more on me than the players,” he said.

The first period continues to be a one of many sore spots for the Pirates, at the early junction of the season, as they gave up the only goal of the period. So far in four games, the Pirates have been outscored 6-2 in the first period.

“For whatever reason, it’s just not one thing,” said Pirates’ defenseman Joe DiPenta. “We need to bring a better effort at the start.”

The lone goal came at 11:45 of the period when scrum ensued around the Pirates’ net. Nathan Perkovich found the loose puck, among a swoon of bodies, stuffing it by Pirates’ goalie Jhonas Enroth for the 1-0 Devils lead.

In the second period, the Devils added three more goals – including two goals within 1:12 – to build a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.

Devils made it 2-0 on a goal by Brad Snetsinger at 5:16 of the period when he finished off a breakaway, beating Enroth over the glove.

At 6:18, Vladimir Zharkov extended the lead to 3-0 when he found the back of the net in a scrum in front Enroth, stuffing the puck underneath the Pirates’ netminder.

The Pirates closest chance came midway into the period, when Paul Byron had a partial breakaway, but former Pirate goaltender Mike McKenna rushed out to stop Byron, getting a small piece of the puck to disrupt the play.

Tim Sestito made it 4-0 for Lowell, ending the night Enroth, at 12:15 of the second period.

Devils’ forward Patrick Davis pushed wide of the Pirates’ defenseman Drew Schiestel, finding Sestito alone skating into the right faceoff circle where he ripped a shot over the top of the Enroth.

McKenna earned is fifth career AHL shutout. His last shutout came while he was a member of the Portland Pirates on Apr 8, 2008 against the Devils at Tsongas Arena.

NOTES: The Pirates were without their captain, Brad Larsen, who suffered an undisclosed injury in last night’s game against Providence. They are also out forward Cody McCormick for a second straight game, and defenseman Matt Generous, who suffered an injury in Buffalo Sabres training camp. The Lowell Devils have four former Pirates skating on their roster with Jay Leach, Louis Robitaille, Mike McKenna and Gerald Coleman.

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