PORTLAND – The reinforcements are back for more.
After the Philadelphia Flyers eliminated the Buffalo Sabres from the NHL playoffs Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a handful of players headed back to Portland to rejoin the Pirates, who opened their Atlantic Division final series against the Binghamton Senators with a 3-2 loss Wednesday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Goalie Jhonas Enroth, center Matt Ellis and right wing Mark Mancari dressed for the Pirates in the opener of the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is at 7 tonight at the Civic Center.
Enroth replaced Sabres starter Ryan Miller in the final 17 minutes, 11 seconds of Buffalo’s 5-2 Game 7 loss to the Flyers Tuesday night at Philadelphia. Mancari dressed for the Sabres, registering a shot on goal in 9:50 of playing time, while Ellis did not play.
Enroth, Mancari and Ellis returned to Portland Wednesday morning. Mancari finished with three shots on goal against the Senators, and Ellis played and was a minus-1. Enroth dressed as Portland’s No. 2 goalie behind David Leggio.
“I liked the jump that Matt Ellis had,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “He takes a lot of pride in having the ‘C’ (for captain) on his jersey out there and that was one of our better lines earlier in the game, with (Maxime) Legault scoring the goal. You can only spread those guys around so much. …
“But overall, we’ve got to find some matches that are going to work against their skill players.”
Dineen said he didn’t expect defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani to rejoin the team for tonight’s game.
Mancari said he arrived in Portland around 12:30 Wednesday afternoon. Now, his focus is on helping the Pirates.
“You’re just hoping to bring some leadership,” said Mancari, who missed a breakaway opportunity against Senators goalie Robin Lehner less than five minutes into the second period. “I’ve been here for a while and hopefully I can get my game back to where it was a couple days ago.
“There’s a little bit of fatigue in there but I can’t use that as an excuse. I’ve got to be better.”
THE PIRATES and Time Warner Cable sports announced that Time Warner will broadcast every game of the division series. Each game will be available to Time Warner’s digital customers on Channel 1000, and some of the games will also be simulcast on TWCTV (channels 9, 20 and 21.)
FORMER UNIVERSITY of New Hampshire standout Bobby Butler was in Binghamton’s lineup at right wing. He played at UNH from 2006 to 2010 and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2010.
THE PIRATES will have little time to dwell on the loss.
“When you play back-to-back, that’s the best thing about it,” Mancari said. “You go home, you learn from your mistakes and you get right back at it (the next day).”
Staff Writers Rachel Lenzi and Paul Betit contributed to this report.