By PAUL BETIT
PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates bent a little bit in the third period Saturday night, but they didn’t fold.
Instead, the Pirates, who have had trouble finishing games this season, held on to eke out a 4-2 win against the Providence Bruins before a sellout crowd of 6,762 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“We’re learning how to win,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “ It’s a process. It’s not perfect, but we’ll take it tonight. I thought we played well for two periods, then we stopped. We had to deal with some adversity in the third period, but we handled it really well.”
With the win, the Pirates snapped a two-game losing streak and three-game home losing streak.
“I was real proud of the guys tonight,” said veteran Nathan Oystrick, who scored his fourth goal of the season late in the first period to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
“We battled hard and finally put 60 minutes together, I think. We hung in there and we battled hard to the final buzzer, and that’s what we have to do to win games.”
Portland, (5-7-0-1 and last place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division) carried a 3-0 lead into the third period before the Bruins scored two quick goals.
“It was a good test for us,” said Mathieu Beaudoin, who had a goal and an assist. “The past few games we’re scored (upon) and we give up. Once we get under pressure everybody goes by themselves. We’ve got to stick together as a team. Just stick with the system. That’s how we win games, and I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”
The Pirates thoroughly outplayed the Bruins during the first period, holding a 14-6 edge in shots.
Oystrick extended his points’ streak to four games when he redirected the puck inside the left post during the Pirates’ second power play of the game. The goal followed some hard work by Beaudoin, who pushed the puck to Andy Miele near the top of the right circle after winning a battle along the boards. As Miele moved toward the top of the slot, he sent a pass to Oystrick, who had sneaked behind goalie Mike Hutchinson for the goal.
The game remained tight until Beaudoin and Colin Long scored goals 12 seconds apart to open up a 3-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the second period.
As both converged on Hutchinson following a turnover, Beaudoin slid Miele’s feed from the slot inside the right post for his fourth goal.
Moments after the ensuing faceoff, Igor Gongalsky, a healthy scratch for the previous three games, sent a pass into the left circle for Long, who scored his third goal on a shot from just above the left hash mark. Rookie Jordan Szwarz also earned an assist on the play, his first AHL point.
The Bruins got back into the game when Carter Camper and Kirk MacDonald scored goals 12 seconds apart with more than 15 minutes left to play.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot sent his third goal into an empty net with one second left.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: