BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Nothing was going right for the Portland Pirates after one period Saturday night.
Changing most combinations meant everything.
The Pirates scored three goals in the third period to beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-2 at Webster Bank Arena. Brett Mac-Lean converted a power-play rebound to tie it, then secured the win with an empty-net goal that capped a comeback from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
In between, Nathan Oystrick was credited with a fluke goal that put the Pirates ahead with 15:06 remaining.
“It might be the ugliest goal I’ve ever scored,” said Oystrick, who will be 29 next week.
From the left point, Oystrick tried to saucer a pass toward the right corner to Ethan Werek, the hero of Portland’s 2-1 victory Friday night at Adirondack.
“I got way too much on it,” Oystrick said.
Bridgeport forward Blair Riley, with the blade of his stick above his waist, tried to knock down the pass. It floated past a couple defenders and goalie Anders Nilsson and into the net.
“It’s a fortunate bounce,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “Listen, it (stinks) if you’re on the other side of the ledger.”
Portland will take it. After losing three games last weekend, the Pirates got a last-minute win Friday, then bused to Connecticut and made it two straight.
For 20 minutes, Edwards thought his team looked as if it was still on the bus.
“The first period was horrible,” Edwards said. “We just slept in. We didn’t start on time. We spotted them two (goals) and we had to regroup.”
Portland got one back on Brock Trotter’s goal with 7:13 left in the second period. He scored on a one-timer, completing a two-on-one give-and-go with Oystrick.
“It started in the defensive zone. We shut them down pretty well,” Oystrick said. “I saw an opportunity to join the rush and beat a couple guys up ice.”
The Pirates tied it 32 seconds into the third on a power play. Patrick O’Sullivan’s point shot hit the post and sat in the crease. MacLean pulled it away from Nilsson and put it in.
Bridgeport scored its goals on power plays. Though the Sound Tigers were ranked 25th in the AHL on the power play and Portland was ninth in penalty killing, Bridgeport struck quickly on both advantages.
Scott Howes and Jeremy Colliton were creating havoc at the front of the net on both goals, and they each scored one.
Regrouping for Portland meant changes on each forward line and on two of the three defense pairs. One unit put Trotter together with O’Sullivan and Marc-Antoine Pouliot. They were on the ice for Trotter’s goal.
“We had to find other solutions (after the first period),” Edwards said. “That’s one thing you’ve got as a coach, ice time, juggling lines.”
O’Sullivan and Pouliot each had two assists, and Curtis McElhinney finished with 29 saves, including 13 in the first period.