PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates played well enough to win Sunday afternoon, but not well enough to finish off the Providence Bruins.

Kirk MacDonald scored his 13th goal 2:10 into overtime as the Bruins kept their flagging playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 victory against the Pirates before a crowd 3,926 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Providence center Zach Hamill sent the game into overtime when he skated in from the right side to score his 14th goal of the season with 47 seconds left in regulation.

“To give up a late goal (and) let the game go into overtime is no fun,” Portland left wing Derek Whitmore said.

“It’s a 60-minute game, sometimes 65 minutes, and we had a little letdown in overtime and they capitalized.”

The loss snapped the Pirates’ six-game winning and prevented them from pulling even with the Worcester Sharks for first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. Portland did earn at least one point for the 11th straight game, however.

Worcester has 100 points with four games remaining; the Pirates have 99 points and three games left.

“With a chance to tie for first place on the line, it’s a tough way to lose,” Whitmore said.

Providence is six points behind Bridgeport, which currently holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins must win their last three games to have any chance of catching Bridgeport.

Hamill tied the score after the Bruins pulled goalie Dany Sabourin in favor of a sixth skater.

“This is the time of year we want to be clicking on all cylinders,” said Whitmore, who was on the ice when the Bruins scored their final two goals. “It’s a mental lapse, and we’ve just got to learn from it and try not to let it happen again.

“We can’t be letting a guy walk down our slot untouched and bury our goalie. We’ve got to be doing our jobs, myself included, in the defensive zone.”

Providence opened the scoring four minutes into second period on Jordan Knackstedt’s power-play goal. After getting behind the defense, he slid a shot under the pads of goalie J.P. Lamoureux for his 15th goal of the season.

Whitmore got the equalizer later in the period, depositing the puck into the open left side of the net for his 18th goal after Kyle Wanvig threaded a pass across the slot during a three-on-two break.

Portland then took a 2-1 lead when Cody McCormick put in a blast from the left point with 8:47 left in regulation.

Both goalies had their moments during a scoreless first period.

Lamoureux, who finished with 24 saves, made a nice stop just two minutes into the game after Providence’s Levi Nelson squeezed past two defenders for a close-in shot from the slot.

Midway through the period, Sabourin stopped McCormick on a breakaway while both teams were skating a man short. Later in the period, Sabourin denied Paul Byron on another breakaway.

Sabourin made 28 saves.

 

NOTES: Veteran forward Jeff Cowan returned to the Portland lineup after a five-game absence because of a family matter. … An injury to his left knee kept rookie defenseman Matt Generous out of the Portland lineup for the second consecutive game. … While forwards Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe remained in the NHL playing for the parent Buffalo Sabres, defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani continued to skate at left wing for the Pirates.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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