PORTLAND – Two years ago, the Portland Pirates were in the same situation: down two games to none in a best-of-seven AHL playoff series.

They came back to win the series, winning the next four games of the Atlantic Division finals against Providence.

This year, the Pirates face the same two-game deficit in their first-round series against Manchester after a 3-1 loss Saturday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. And while they seem to have some history on their side, so much else seems hypothetical when it comes to discussing the Pirates’ current playoff chances.

“Examples go on and on,” Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said.

The Pirates play Game 3 at 7 tonight in Manchester, N.H., and with the next two games at the Verizon Wireless Arena, the Pirates have to produce more offense and match the pace the Monarchs have set or they will face playoff elimination.

In Friday’s 2-1 win, the Monarchs held the Pirates to six shots on goal in the third period while scoring twice in the first five minutes of the period.

The momentum extended into Saturday when the Monarchs took a three-goal lead after the first period while allowing the Pirates just five shots on goal.

“We have to make sure that we’re ready from the start, that we take pride when we have the puck and we don’t make it so easy when we transition from their defensive play into not only offensive play, but really strong chances against,” said Dineen, whose team has two goals on 46 shots in this first two games of the series. “It was too easy a game for them (Saturday).”

Pirates left wing Nathan Gerbe said he believes his team has to simplify its game if it wants to climb back into the first-round series.

“Too many turnovers caused goals and there were too many bad reads by players that cost us chances,” Gerbe said. “Going on the road’s going to be simpler. Hopefully we can clear our minds and just play.”

Manchester right wing Trevor Lewis said his team needs to continue the pace it set in the first two games in Portland.

“Get pucks deep, get pucks to the net,” said Lewis, who scored the winning goal Saturday. “It’s just kind of the same thing that we’ve been doing.

“That’s going to be the challenge — just keeping our heads on and keep going.

“They’re going to be coming hard in our building since we took two (in Portland), and we’ve got to just keep playing the way we are.”

Dineen isn’t about to fall back on past playoff hockey experiences, both as a player and as coach of the Pirates. But he explained that momentum can change over the course of a series.

“As easily as it swings one way, we still have belief in ourselves,” Dineen said. “We have a resume that says we’re a good team and a hard-working team, and we’re going to have to start believing in that to come out and play better.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]