PORTLAND — It was as if the Portland Pirates had front-row seats to watch a documentary about what a playoff team looks like.

The only trouble is the Pirates were on the ice at the time.

The Lowell Devils nailed down a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs with a 5-2 win Saturday night before a crowd of 5,656 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“We all acknowledge we did get outworked,” Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. “We realize we were playing a desperate, playoff-hungry team that was looking to solidify a spot in the playoffs, and they played harder than us tonight, and that was all the difference in the hockey game.”

Despite the loss, the Pirates gained home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs when Bridgeport eked out a 2-0 win against the Manchester Monarchs.

Portland will finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Worcester and will open a best-of-seven series against Manchester on Friday night at the Civic Center.

“We move forward from here and we say, ‘you know what? This is the way it’s going to be,’ ” Dineen said. “We’re going to be playing teams that are going to be playing like this. This is the way every game is going to be, and it’s a good lesson for us to learn.”

It was the third consecutive loss for the Pirates, who finish the regular season this afternoon with a home game against Worcester.

“The big picture this year is the strength of this team and a good part of our identity is our work ethic, and it wasn’t there tonight,” Dineen said. “We’ve done a good job this year of consistently responding to stinkers.”

“Anytime you get outplayed at home in front of a big crowd it’s not good,” said Portland defenseman Joe DiPenta, who has played on Stanley Cup and Calder Cup championship teams. “I don’t think we can look at this situation from the outside looking in, we’ve got to look at it from the inside looking out. We’ve got to figure out on an individual basis what makes us successful as a player and as a team.”

Lowell’s Matt Halischuk opened the scoring 11 minutes into the game when he scored his 11th goal of the season on a breakaway while his team was short-handed. After fending off defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, he swept in from the left side and beat goalie J.P. Lamoureux with a backhander.

Cody McCormick tied it with 27 seconds left in the period, poking in a rebound for his 18th goal.

Nathan Perkovich, Tim Sestito and Ben Walker scored goals in the first 12 minutes of the second period to make it 4-1.

 

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

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