MANCHESTER, N.H. – They earned a point to cap off a productive weekend.
But the Portland Pirates wanted a bit more from Sunday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Manchester Monarchs at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“I don’t think you’re ever happy losing a point to a division rival,” said Pirates captain and defenseman Dean Arsene. “But all things considered, getting five out of six points this weekend, after the weekend we had last week, was a nice turnaround.”
The Pirates lost three road games last weekend and responded this time with wins Friday at Adirondack and Saturday at Bridgeport. They have played seven straight on the road.
They had plenty of chances on Sunday, too.
Twice, they held two-goal leads. And twice the Monarchs responded with a goal on the next shift.
“It’s the old hockey cliche,” said defenseman Nathan Oystrick, who scored Portland’s fourth goal.
“The shift after a goal is the most important shift of the game and we let them back in it all game. You have to give them credit. They’re a good team and they’ve got guys who can put the puck in the net and they got the two points.”
The Monarchs picked up the extra point with shootout goals by Robbie Czarnick and Marc-Andre Cliche.
Manchester goalie Martin Jones denied Patrick O’Sullivan, Andy Miele, Brock Trotter and Brett MacLean in the shootout.
The Pirates led much of the game, but were unable to put the Monarchs away.
Portland went in front 2-0 on goals by MacLean and Trotter 51 seconds apart early in the first period.
That two-goal lead lasted only 16 seconds as Patrick Mullen scored for the Monarchs.
The Pirates made it 3-1 on MacLean’s second goal of the game at 8:21 of the second period. MacLean also had two goals Saturday against Bridgeport.
Czarnick scored 31 seconds after MacLean to cut the lead to 3-2.
Stefan Legein beat Justin Pogge (31 saves) to tie it 3-3 six minutes into the third period.
This time, it was Portland’s turn to answer quickly and Oystrick did just that. With Matt Watkins and MacLean assisting, Oystrick beat Martin Jones off a tough angle from the right boards at 7:23.
But Legein came down the right side and took a feed from Thomas Hickey and blasted the puck past Pogge at 9:35.
The Pirates had a great opportunity when Manchester’s Andrew Campbell was called for delay of game in overtime. Portland skated most of the final two minutes with a four-on-three advantage.
“We just didn’t really bear down,” Oystrick said. “It felt like nobody really wanted to pull the trigger out there. We were making some good seams, but it was a little bit too much tick-tack-toe.”
“It felt like we probably left a point sitting here that could have been ours,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “But it’s way better than what we did last weekend. We needed a bounce back and it was nice. It kept us in the mix.”