PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates got back to business Tuesday night.
The Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak with a solid 3-0 win against the Providence Bruins before a crowd of 3,872 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“It’s a funny game, isn’t it?” Portland right wing Mark Parrish said. “It gives you a chance to come back and redeem yourself and get back on the horse.
“At the same time, it can be scary. That’s why you want to cut those slides at the first opportunity you can because confidence is fragile.”
Portland, which already has clinched a playoff berth, took a three-point lead against the Manchester Monarchs in the race for first place in the AHL Atlantic Division. Portland has eight games to play in the regular season, while Manchester has five games left.
The loss eliminated the Bruins from contention for a playoff berth.
Goalie David Leggio made 28 saves to post his third shutout of the season.
“I like to think I made a couple of good saves, but we did a good job defensively,” Leggio said.
“We were struggling defensively the last three games and it was important for us to come out and play a tight game and play our systems. Those are the type of games we’re going to have to have in the playoffs.”
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead during the first 12 minutes. Less than four minutes in, Dennis McAuley tipped in defenseman Nick Crawford’s shot from the left point for his 12th goal of the season.
Eight minutes later, defenseman Nick Tuzzolino, in his 17th game with the Pirates, put in a hard shot from between the hash marks for his first AHL goal.
“I found a hole and (Mark Voakes) was wide open and he hit me with a great pass,” Tuzzolino said. “If I missed that one, I would have been pretty upset at myself.”
The Bruins held an 11-6 edge in shots during the scoreless second period, but Portland rookie Luke Adam, back in the lineup after missing one game because of a bruised sternum, had the best scoring chance.
Five minutes into the period, goalie Anton Khudobin stopped a backhander by Adam as he broke in alone while the Pirates were short-handed.
With less than a minute left in the game, T.J. Brennan, who leads AHL defenseman with 15 goals, added an empty-net goal.
Parrish had an assist on the goal to extend his points streak to 10 games.
“It was a full team commitment,” Parrish said. “You could see that everybody was skating to support the puck. Everybody was moving, even when there were collapses.
“When there were turnovers and breakdowns, guys were hurrying and getting back real well. When there were times in the (defensive) zone when they had control of the puck, we collapsed real well and just held our own and relaxed.
“It was a great team game, for sure.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]