PORTLAND – Buoyed by a record-tying performance by defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, the Portland Pirates rolled to an 8-3 win Saturday night against the Worcester Sharks before 5,339 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Pirates, who have earned points in 12 of their last 16 games, broke open a close game by scoring five third-period goals to take firmer hold of second place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.

“We felt if we kept with our tone of the game good things were going to follow,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “We weren’t expecting five goals in the third but we’ll take it.”

Corey Tropp, Mark Mancari, Maxime Legault, Paul Byron and Drew Schiestel scored goals during the third period as the Pirates recorded their second win in five games this season against the Sharks. During the next five days, the teams will play each other twice.

Gragnani, a 24-year-old defenseman in his fourth AHL season, tied a club record by assisting on five goals.

“When you have that kind of confidence, and you’re playing the way he has in the last three weeks, we want to see him involved,” Dineen said.

“Our forwards are very aware of how he’s playing the game, that he is part of the mix for us. That was a special effort by him.”

Through the years, Keith Jones, Andrew Brunette and Andreas Salomonsson each had five assists in a game for the Pirates. Gragnani, who now has 22 assists to share the team lead with Mancari, is the first defenseman to do it.

“I just tried to make plays, like every game,” he said. “My teammates just scored every time, I guess. I’ll take that any night.”

The score was tied 2-2 at the end of the first period.

The Sharks opened the scoring less than a minute into the game when T.J. Trevelyan sent a wrap-around shot from the right side across the crease inside the far post for his eighth goal.

Less than six minutes later, Igor Gongalsky, back in the lineup after missing seven games while recovering from a concussion, put in a shot from the front of the crease for his first AHL goal after receiving Gragnani’s feed from behind the net.

It was the 20th AHL game for the 25-year-old forward who has spent most of his professional career in the ECHL.

With less than four minutes left in the second period, Dan DaSilva put Worcester back into the lead with a power-play goal.

NOTES: T.J. Brennan, who played most of his last five games up front, moved back to defense. … Illness kept defenseman Dennis Persson out of the Portland lineup for only the third time this season. … Immediately after the game, the Pirates traveled to Springfield, Mass., where they will play the Falcons at 2 p.m. today. 

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

pbetit@pressherald.com