HARTFORD, Conn. – Brendan Bell scored with 1:31 left in overtime Wednesday night to give the Connecticut Whale a 3-2 victory against the Portland Pirates.
The Pirates (8-7-1-1) had a two-goal lead late in the second period but had to go to overtime when Jonathan Audy-Marchessault jammed in Carl Hagelin’s rebound for a short-handed goal with 1:11 left in regulation.
“The biggest thing today was the power play,” Coach Ray Edwards said after the Pirates went 0 of 8 with the man advantage and allowed the late short-handed goal. “It really let us down, and that’s my fault because I’m in charge of the power play. I didn’t get the right players on the ice at the end. They got momentum every time we got a power play and that falls on me. You’d like to score one at the end but you can’t give one up. But that’s my fault for having inexperienced players on the ice and maybe trying to be too safe.
“But the reality is we got a point on the road, and we’ll look at the positives and re-evaluate come Friday at home against Worcester.”
Whale goalie Cam Talbot (25 saves) made two stellar stops on Marc-Antoine Pouliot in the opening 1:29 of overtime, but Bell converted Tim Erixon’s third assist as the Whale (10-4-1-2) extended their Northeast Division lead to three points over idle Springfield, Albany and Bridgeport.
“I didn’t play a very good game, but something must be going well when a rebound goes right on my stick with a wide-open net and a minute left in overtime,” said Bell, who scored a breakaway goal with 6.9 seconds left in overtime to beat Bridgeport 3-2 last Friday.
Goalie Curtis McIlhinney kept the Pirates close for the final 30 minutes when the Whale had 23 of their 36 shots.
“We established things with a two-goal lead but the third period has been our nemesis,” McIlhinney said. “We kind of sit back and try to hold onto the lead. It was a frustrating loss. The only positive note is we got a point from a good team in their rink. They could have had quite a few more in the back of the net when they hit the posts and crossbar.”
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second period when Michael Stone skated through the neutral zone and passed to Evan Bloodoff, who burst in off left wing and beat Talbot to the short stick side at 8:14 for his first goal in 12 games this season.
The Pirates made it 2-0 when Ashton Rome got behind defensemen Blake Parlett and Lee Baldwin, and jammed in Chris Summers’ rebound for his third goal with 6:17 left in the period.
Parlett made it 2-1, beating McIlhinney to the glove side with 2:52 left.
With the Pirates on their eighth power play, Auby-Marchessault raced down left wing and jammed in a rebound for his sixth goal.
Bell then scored in overtime and the Pirates’ four-game winning streak was over.
NOTES: The Pirates scratched injured goalie Justin Pogge, defenseman Nathan Oystrick and forwards Brock Trotter, Ethan Werek, Mathieu Beaudoin and Alexandre Bolduc. The Whale missed center Kris Newbury, suspended for four games for an illegal check to the head Friday night.