PORTLAND – After playing three good games on the road last weekend, the Portland Pirates returned to the Cumberland County Civic Center and laid an egg.
The Manchester Monarchs, who beat Portland in a shootout at home Sunday, thoroughly frustrated the Pirates in a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
“They looked like a really good team, and they were missing four or five key guys,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “I don’t know if our guys looked at their lineup and thought this was going to be a cakewalk or what. But the reality is (Manchester) approached the game correctly. They played a smart road game and our guys, our team, our coaches, everybody, didn’t respond well.”
Defenseman Patrick Mullen scored the winning goal, whistling a rising shot through a screen of players on a power play with less than than 14 minutes left. It was the Monarchs’ fifth win in seven games against the Pirates and snapped Portland’s five-game home winning streak.
“After playing well for three games in a row, you’re hoping to come home and continue on with that,” Edwards said. “I think the lineup is good enough to win and we should be winning. I’m hoping this was a flash in the pan.”
The Monarchs (17-10-0-2) were all over the Pirates in the first five minutes, and it paid off when Dwight King tipped in Jake Muzzin’s pass through the slot from the right circle for his third goal of the season.
“We got behind at the start and had to battle back,” said center Brock Trotter, who assisted on Portland’s goal. “Especially at home, we’ve got to be the aggressors, for sure.”
Twice it appeared Portland (12-11-1-2) tied the game, but both times goals were waved off.
With less than eight minutes left in the first period, Ashton Rome slid the rebound of Ethan Werek’s shot from the left side inside the far post. But right wing Matt Watkins was called for goaltender interference.
Another Portland goal was waved off five minutes into the second when officials ruled the right goal post was knocked off its moorings before the puck crossed the goal line on Brett MacLean’s shot.
With less than 10 minutes left in the period, Patrick O’Sullivan, in his fourth game since being sent down by Phoenix, tied it on a power play.
After Mullen snapped the tie, the Pirates took three late penalties.
“You could see the frustration in us. We took some really bad penalties,” Edwards said. “I’m very disappointed in the way we handled our emotions, how we handled the game. We just didn’t react well.”
NOTES: Defenseman Chris Sommers joined Phoenix for the third time this year. Right wing Igor Gongalsky was sent to the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. Center Colin Long is expected to be out indefinitely following a reoccurrence of post-concussion symptoms.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: