ST. JOHN’S, NL — Carl Klingberg slammed a rebound into the top corner of the net past the blocker of Portland goalie Chad Johnson two minutes into the third period, providing the St. John’s IceCaps a 4-2 lead over the Portland Pirates. The goal proved decisive as the IceCaps held on for a 4-3 AHL victory at Mile One Centre to sweep the two-game series.
David Rundbland’s power-play goal brought Portland to within one with 2:38 left to play. But that was as close as the Pirates got, suffering their third consecutive loss while falling to 38-28-3-2 on the season.
Portland’s magic number to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot remains 7 points. The Pirates remain 3 points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 5th spot in the east and 3 points ahead of the Connecticut Whale. With the Portland loss, the Providence Bruins clinched the Atlantic Division title. The IceCaps, last in the Atlantic Division, are 31-34-2-4.
Portland, trailing 2-0, tied the game with two scores within a four-minute span of the second period. Phil Lane picked up the puck near the right boards and whipped a hard pass in front that was redirected past St. John’s goalie Mark Dekanich by Darian Dziurzynski 4:36 into the period. Jordan Martinook tied the game for the Pirates, bursting in on goal during a two-on-one and beating Dekanich between the pads with just one second left on a holding penalty to Patrick Cullity.
The IceCaps responded as the teams plaed with four skaters each during matching penalties. Ben Maxwell passed to Will O’Neill on the left side, who a feed to Jason Jaffray in the slot for a one-timer with five minutes left in the period. The Pirates apparently tied the game when Andy Miele put the puck in the net. But the goal was waved off because of a crease violation by Evan Brophey, and the Pirates remained trailing 3-2 after two periods.
St. John’s opened the scoring at 14:14 of the first period on a power-play goal by Kael Mouillierat while Portland’s Brett Hextall sat in the penalty box. Eric O’Dell got the puck to Kael Mouillierat near the right circle. Mouillierat attempted a pass in front to Josh Lunden, but the puck deflected off a leg and past Johnson for a 1-0 IceCaps lead.
The IceCaps went up 2-0 just 2:01 into the second on Vinny Saponari’s first pro goal. Travis Ramsey started the play, releasing an outlet pass to Adam Lowry. Lowry carried the puck through the neutral zone and towards the net before attempting to set up Tomas Kubalik in front. The pass deflected off a Pirates defender and bounced off Johnson’s pad before popping out to Saponari for the put back.
Mark Dekanich made 28 saves for the victory, while Johnson countered with 27.