PORTLAND – After a nine-day layoff, the Portland Pirates got back to business Tuesday night.
The Pirates recovered from a slow start to snap three-game losing streak by skating to a 4-3 win against the Providence Bruins before a near-sellout crowd of 6,626 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
In the end, the AHL game was not as close as the score indicates as Portland held a decisive 27-11 edge in shots during the final two periods.
“We looked like we were full of turkey and stuffing,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “It was a long holiday, and it really took us a while to get our legs going.”
Goalie Jhonas Enroth bought the Pirates some time.
He made 15 of his 24 saves during the first period, when the Bruins held a 16-4 edge in shots, and helped kill off four penalties.
“You need a goaltender like that to weather the storm for you,” left wing Colin Stuart said. “He really kept us in the game tonight, for sure.”
During the holiday break, Dineen said special-team play would have to improve for the Pirates to be successful.
Against Providence, the Pirates scored on 3 of 5 power plays and killed off 5 of 6 Providence power plays.
“Special teams was the difference in the hockey game tonight,” Dineen said. “We scored some goals on the power play, and that’s a nice feeling for our group. Half the job on the power play is a confidence thing. When you believe in the things that have worked, good things follow from there.”
The score was tied 1-1 at the end of the first period.
Jamie Arniel opened the scoring 13 minutes into the game by sliding a rebound past Enroth during a power play for his team-high 14th goal of the season.
With 38.2 seconds left in the period, Mark Mancari scored his team-high 14th goal during a power play to tie the score.
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead three minutes into the second period when defenseman Matt Bartkowski’s shot from the top of the slot squeezed through Enroth’s pads.
Again, the Pirates scored a power-play goal during the final minute of the period to knot the score.
With 6.5 seconds left, Paul Byron made it 2-2 by putting in a hard shot from the top of the right circle for his ninth goal.
Less than two minutes into the third period, Dennis McCauley put Portland in the lead when he stuck a back-handed shot inside the left post for his fifth goal after Tim Conboy circled behind the net and sent a centering pass from the opposite side of the crease.
With less than nine minutes left, Stuart made it 4-2 when he put in a wide-angled shot from the right side in off Hutchinson’s stick for his sixth goal during a power play.
“We ran a play and once I saw we had two guys at the net, to be honest, I just threw it there,” Stuart said. “He had his paddle down and sometimes you get lucky.”
With less than three minutes left, Providence rookie center Maxime Sauve put in a shot from the right side of the slot for his seventh goal to complete the scoring.
NOTE: About 1,000 tickets remain for the New Year’s Eve game between the Connecticut Whale and the Pirates. An indoor fireworks will follow the 5:30 game Friday night.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: