PORTLAND – Portland goalie Curtis McElhinney cooled off one of the hottest American Hockey League teams Friday night.
McElhinney stopped 33 shots in regulation and overtime, then stopped four of the five shootout skaters to help the Pirates pull out a 3-2 victory against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
It was the third consecutive win for the Pirates and the first road loss for the Penguins, the first-place team in the East Division.
“It was a big win for us, getting three in a row now and getting the confidence that we can play with these big teams,” Portland defenseman Michael Stone said.
McElhinney, who was yanked Tuesday night after allowing two goals in the first nine minutes of a 4-2 win against Adirondack, made 14 saves in the first period to keep the Pirates in the game.
“We haven’t been the best in front of him in some of the losses that we’ve had,” Stone said, “but he’s going to make those saves and stand on his head when we ask him to.”
The Penguins peppered McElhinney with 12 shots before Colin Long put a shot on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Scott Munroe with 7:50 left in the opening period.
“It’s been getting square to the puck and trusting my defensemen,” McElhinney said. “My only focus is squaring up the puck and making that initial save and after that, let everybody jump into it to help out.”
The Pirates took the lead after 15 minutes when defenseman Maxim Goncharev finished a three-man rush. Jordan Szwarz set up the goal by dropping a pass from the right circle.
The Penguins made it 1-1 nine minutes into the second period on a fluke goal by Brian Gibbons.
Shortly after a Portland power play ended, Stone tried to clear the puck from the open net. When he whirled to send it out of the defensive zone, it deflected off Gibbons, who was inches away, and bounced into the open net.
About five minutes later, Stone made up for it when he snapped the tie by scoring his second goal of the season on a power play.
Less than seven minutes into the third period, Ben Street made it 2-2 on a power play.
The Pirates (7-7-0-1) held a 6-2 edge in shots in overtime.
During the shootout, Ryan Duncan and Brett MacLean, the last of his team’s five shooters, scored for the Pirates. Colin McDonald was the only Penguin to score.
NOTES: Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and chief scout Frank Effinger were in the building. Rookie forward Shane Bennett was loaned to the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators after scoring one goal in four games with the Pirates. After playing the last two games, Pirates left wing Alex Gongalsky was a healthy scratch. Right wing Matt Watkins, who missed three games because of an upper-body injury, returned to the Portland lineup.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: