PORTLAND – No last-minute heroics saved the Portland Pirates on Saturday night.

Exactly one week after Derek Whitmore scored a goal with 7.5 seconds left to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 win against the Connecticut Whale in Hartford, the Whale held off the Pirates for a 4-3 win before 5,709 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“We got caught up in a little bit of a back-and-forth game,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “We got caught taking chances, and their power play was just one goal better than ours.”

Kris Newberry, a veteran center who just returned from an eight-game run with the NHL parent New York Rangers, scored his seventh goal of the season during a power play less than three minutes into the third period to snap a 3-3 tie.

It was the Pirates’ first game coming the weeklong AHL all-star break.

“As the game wore on, their good players were really, really good, and ours were average,” Dineen said. “We play a certain style of hockey, and they have a high payroll-type team and they want a skill game.

“If we play that, and we have the ability to play that, it’s a toss-up like it was tonight. We can play that way and get a chance or we can be a little bit harder to play against and improve our odds.”

The Pirates get another shot at the Whale today in Hartford.

Portland’s Mark Mancari, the AHL’s leading scorer, opened the scoring nine minutes into the game with his third short-handed goal of the season. After picking up an errant pass just outside his own blue line, Mancari skated the length of the ice before placing a shot from between the hash marks in between goalie Dov Grumet-Morris’ pads for his 28th goal of the season.

Grumet-Morris, who played 11 games for the Pirates during the 2006-07 season, has spent most of this season with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors, where has compiled a 2.32 goals-against average in 24 games. Saturday night’s start came during his second stint with the Whale.

Less than six minutes into the second period, Tomas Kondratek, a rookie defenseman from the Czech Republic, made it 1-1 when he scored his third goal on a blast from the right point one second after the Pirates had killed off a penalty.

Justin Bowers scored for the Pirates and Chad Kolarik scored for the Whale during a 56-second span to keep the score knotted with 12 minutes left in the second period.

With less than eight minutes left in the period, Dennis McCauley sent Portland back into the lead when he stuck his ninth goal into the right side of the net. Kolarik tied the score for a second time with a goal with 1:20 left.

NOTES: The Pirates signed former Boston College defenseman Brian O’Hanley, who has spent most of his four-year pro career in the ECHL. … A knee injury is expected to keep defenseman Portland Alex Biega out for two weeks.

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

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