NORFOLK, Va. – Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen was a gambler Friday, whether he wanted to be or not.
“It was like playing poker, but you’re all-in on every hand,” Dineen said after the Pirates beat the Norfolk Admirals 6-5 in a shootout at Scope Arena.
“But you were always playing six-through-nine (for a straight draw).”
The Pirates tied the game when Luke Adam scored at 14:43 of the third period. They won the game on shootout goals by Mark Parrish — who returned to boos in Norfolk, where he played last season — and Derek Whitmore. They were countered only by the Admirals’ Juraj Simek, who scored his first two goals of the season during regulation.
The final Norfolk shot was taken by Paul Szczechura, and Pirates goalie David Leggio was equal to the task.
It seemed a lot to ask after he faced 41 Norfolk shots.
“It wasn’t a do-or-die situation,” Leggio said of facing Szczechura with a 2-1 lead in the shootout. “That makes it a little easier.”
Leggio had struggled at times, including on Norfolk’s final regulation goal, scored from long range by Ty Wishart. Wishart’s shot seemed to have been stopped by Leggio before tricking into the net to give the Admirals a 5-4 lead.
“The puck hit somebody in the backside,” Leggio said. “I don’t know who it was. It might have been one of our guys. But it deflected.”
The Admirals entered the game leading the AHL in scoring at 4.39 goals per game and showed why. But the Pirates matched them, meeting pressure with pressure and pushing the puck.
Marc-Andre Gragnani scored twice for the Pirates, including a first-period goal that gave them a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates took advantage of what has been Norfolk’s weak spot, scoring only 1:40 into the game. After a turnover, the puck was sent ahead to Adam, who had Matt Ellis and Mark Mancari trailing the play for a three-on-two opportunity. Mancari scored his sixth goal of the season.
After Gragnani’s first goal, James Wright and Simek scored to tie it at 2 at the end of one period.
Drew Schiestel also scored for Portland, which got its first road win after two losses.
The teams play again tonight.
“It was an entertaining game for the fans,” Dineen said. “They certainly got their money’s worth.”