PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates struggled in the third period Saturday night but managed to complete a sweep of their four-game homestand.
Matt Watkins scored two goals to lead the Pirates to a 3-2 win against the Providence Bruins at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Veteran forward Brett MacLean scored a goal and had an assist for his first points since joining the team more than two weeks ago as the Pirates (8-7-0-1) moved into a tie with Providence (8-10-1-0) for third place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
“Anybody who has been around this league knows if you’re going to make the playoffs you have to be a tough home team and you have to win a lot of games,” said MacLean, who scored the decisive goal in a shootout Friday night to give the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. “Hopefully, this is a trend that’s going to continue for us. We’ve got to let people know this is going to be a tough building to come into.”
The Pirates, who lost four of their first five home games, had a difficult time closing out Saturday night’s win.
“We just let down is what we did,” Watkins said. “We didn’t do what was giving us success in the first two periods. That’s skating and being quick and getting in on the forecheck. We just didn’t do those things, and (Providence) played hard in the third period and just outplayed us.”
The score was tied 1-1 at the end of the first period.
Watkins opened the scoring seven minutes in when he put in a shot from the top of the slot.
A little more than a minute later, Jamie Tardif tied the score when he stuck in a rebound while cutting through the slot on the Bruins’ first power play.
The Pirates took a 3-1 lead during the second period.
On the first shift of the period, MacLean scored his first goal as a Pirate by finishing off a three-shot flurry with a shot from below the right hashmark. Andy Miele drew an assist on the goal to extend his points streak to six.
Watkins scored his third goal of the season at the 11-minute mark when he finished off a rush with a left-handed shot from the right faceoff dot.
The Bruins held an 18-4 edge in shots in the third period and closed to within a goal when Josh Hennessey jammed in the puck during a scrum with less than five minutes to play.
“We’ve got to learn to finish games better,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “We got soft on the puck and we gave them life Obviously we’ll take the win and take the two points and hopefully learn something about our third period there.”
NOTES: Upper-body injuries kept right wing Mathieu Beaudoin and defenseman Nathan Oystrick, two of the Pirates’ leading offensive threats, out of the lineup. … Mathieu Brodeur, a 6-foot-6 defenseman in his second pro season, and left wing Igor Gongalsky, the only player back from last year when the Pirates were affiliated with the Sabres, were back in the lineup.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: