ALBANY, N.Y. – The Portland Pirates extended their winning streak to 10 games Friday night, with help and good fortune.
While short-handed, defenseman Joe DiPenta scored from from his blue line into an open net with 1:21 remaining to lift Portland past the Albany River Rats, 3-2.
The Pirates, who haven’t lost in almost a month, scored two unassisted goals in the third.
”It was a unique one,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. ”The game in general was not a thing of beauty, but it certainly was an entertaining one and an incredibly disheartening one for the home team.”
Brett Larsen drew Portland into a 2-2 tie when his drive was kicked in by Stefan Chaput of Albany at 2:17 of the third.
Then, while on a power play that started with 1:37 remaining, Albany goalie Justin Peters moved up near his blue line and sent the puck up ice and off the boards.
”I kind of saw the play developing when (Peters) was getting the puck and when he was going to shoot off the boards,” said DiPenta. ”So I skated toward where I thought the puck was going to go and (it) just bascially came to me.”
DiPenta gained possession just inside Portland’s blue line and fired the puck down to an open goal as Peters scrambled.
”I knew when I saw the puck there, I had a good chance to score,” DiPenta said. ”I knew where the goalie had just passed the puck from and I knew that I was going to ice the puck anyway, and I heard my defense partner (Mike Kostka) yell ‘shoot it, shoot it’ so then I knew for sure I had a chance.
”It was kind of slow motion, but I just tried to shoot the puck where I thought the net was and I was lucky that it went in.”
”(DiPenta) launched it pretty good,” Peters said. ”It wasn’t as if he floated it. Whatever. It happens. You move on.”
The fanastic finish left Dineen almost giddy on the bench.
”I don’t think I’ve seen myself jump in the air and do a little jig like I did on the bench,” Dineen said. ”I don’t think I’ve ever done that, and it was a pretty dramatic goal, for sure.”
Portland overcame two one-goal deficits.
”This is the most unique way we’ve won all year, obviously,” DiPenta said. ”I think we got outplayed in the first period, for sure, we were lucky to get out of there with a 1-0 deficit, but our goalie held us in there.
”I think we showed a lot of heart coming back twice, so I think we got away with one a little bit coming back like that. We can kind of chalk it up as a fortunate win.”
Jhonas Enroth made 28 saves to record his league-leading 24th win and push his personal winning streak to nine games for Portland.
”I felt we got outplayed a fair amount of the game. I thought they played hard,” Dineen said. ”But when things are going well and you’ve won a number of games in a row, things like that seem to work in your favor instead of against you.”
After Nicolas Blanchard gave Albany a 1-0 lead, the Pirates tied it on Mike Weber’s drive from just inside the Albany blue line.
Jerome Samson gave Albany a 2-1 lead.
NOTES: The Pirates improved to 14-10-3-1 on the road and won for the second time when trailing after two (2-14-2-0). Larsen has four (1-3) points in his past four games for Portland.