Maine Hockey Journal

Series shifts to Portland all even

Hartford, Conn. – The Portland Pirates solved two issues on Thursday night and were able to – dare I call it a must win – win over the Hartford Wolf Pack, 3-2, in front of 1,622 at the XL Center in game two of the best-of-seven Atlantic Division semifinal.

Going into game two, the Pirates were 3-for-49 with the man advantage and needed to find away to get the power play going.

Even though it was still was sputtering on seven cylinders, Portland was able to capitalize on the power play when it mattered most.

At 9:24 of double OT, with Pierre Parenteau serving a minor for slashing, Michal Birner batted at the loose puck, putting it past Wolf Pack goalie David LeNeveu to give the Pirates a must have win as the series now shifts to Portland.

Speaking of LeNeveu, this kid has been fantastic so far this series. He’s stopped almost everything the Pirates have thrown at him this series, stopping 71 of 75 shots faced in the first two games.

The Pirates would get on the board first in the game with their first power play goal in 21 attempts when Geoff Platt scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right face-off circle, just 2:02 into the second period. It’s a goal that LeNeveu wished he had back as he made the initial stop, but the puck just trickled over the goal line for the power play tally.

With the goal, Platt scored his first goal in 13 games going all the way back to March 12 when he scored a pair against the River Rats in Albany. Ironically, it had been less than a week since Bobby Ryan was recalled to Anaheim. Platt and Ryan had built positive chemistry since being acquired earlier this season from the Columbus Blue Jackets as Platt because the finisher to Ryan’s playmaking skillset.

However, a little over a minute later, the Pirates found themselves tied at 1 -1 with the Wolf Pack as Dane Byers scored his first goal of the series when he tipped on a shot from Andrew Hutchinson, at the left point by Pirates’ goalie J.S. Aubin, who was screened in front.

Much like in game one, as the second period was nearing an end, Mike Ouellette found the back of the net, amidst a scrum, flipping the puck over Aubin to give Hartford a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.

The Pirates would send the game to OT and Birner’s eventual game-winner when Jason King tied the game, 2-2 as he found the loose puck at the right post, sneaking it past LeNeveu less than two minutes into the third period of action.

Both teams had their chance in the third as well as the first overtime session before the Pirates ended it all and credit has to be given to not only Aubin and LeNeveu for standing on their heads so far in this series, but to the entire Wolf Pack team for trying to carry the physical play.
In past years, it would have been the Pirates who tried to play physical, but this year they went with a smaller more finesse team and the Wolf Pack has done a good job at neutralizing them for the most part. They’ve blocked quite a few shots, not allowing many to reach LeNeveu. The Pirates are trying to get traffic in front, but the Wolf Pack with the bigger bodies has been able to move them out of the way and keep most of the shots to the perimeter.

Despite the Pirates winning and getting two PPG’s, I’m still hung up on the fact that they need to find a way generate more production on the PP. They went 2-for-9 tonight, but since March 22, they’re only 5-for-58 or only 8.6% with the man advantage.


While the Pirates tied their series up at one game apiece, their parent club, the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t as fortunate as they’ve been pushed to the brink of elimination as the Dallas Stars defeated the Ducks 3-1 tonight.

Corey Perry returned to the lineup after missing six weeks with a leg injury, but it wasn’t enough as the Marty Turco made 27 saves in the win, while getting goals from Lundqvist, Barnes and Ott. The lone goal by the Ducks came from Mathieu Schneider with eight seconds left in the game.

Bobby Ryan was a healthy scratch for the second straight game, which poses the question of why hasn’t Anaheim sent him down, if they aren’t going to play him. With the Pirates offensive troubles as of late and the uncertainty of Drew Miller’s return, he would be a welcomed addition to the roster.

The Stars will be looking to finish off the Ducks tomorrow night when game five takes place in Anaheim. Ironically, it could be potentially the last time the Ducks will take the ice as the parent club of the Pirates. As has been speculated for a while, it’s expected the Ducks will be moving their affiliation elsewhere next season.

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