PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates bent just a little in the third period Wednesday night, but they didn’t break.
Brett MacLean scored two goals in a game for the fourth time this season as the Pirates held off the Providence Bruins for a 6-3 victory before a crowd of 5,884 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Pirates, who snapped a two-game losing streak, were sailing along with a 4-1 lead before the Bruins rallied, closing within a goal in the opening minutes of the third period.
“The bottom line of the game was the game changed because of penalties,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “The first 30 minutes I thought we were in total control of the game, and then we started taking penalties.”
MacLean was called for a trip 29 seconds into the period, and the situation got worse when Ryan Holweg, back in the lineup after serving his second one-game suspension of the season, received a double minor for a high stick a little more than a minute later.
Josh Hennessey scored his team-high 11th goal while Providence had a two-man advantage, but Portland’s penalty killers held the Bruins scoreless for the final 3:21 of Hollweg’s penalty.
“It was huge penalty kill,” said MacLean, who has nine goals in his last seven games. “Our (penalty killers) have let in some goals lately, but they killed off a four-minute penalty there, and after that we got our momentum back and finished the game.”
With less than eight minutes left in the game, Matt Watkins spun around and put in a shot from the middle of the left circle for his fifth goal to make it 5-3.
Brock Trotter put the game out of reach when he sent his seventh goal into an empty net with less than three minutes left.
The Pirates broke to a 3-1 lead in the first period when they held a 16-7 edge in shots.
MacLean opened the scoring less than eight minutes into the game when he got his stick on defenseman Nathan Oystrick’s blast from center point and redirected the puck past goalie Mike Hutchinson.
Seven minutes later, MacLean jammed the puck between Hutchinson’s pads after the goalie stopped Trotter’s shot from the top of the slot.
With less than four minutes left in the period, Carter Camper made it 2-1 when he jammed the puck into the left side of the goal 29 seconds into the Bruins’ first power play of the game.
Portland regained its two-goal lead at 17:30 when defenseman Dean Arsene scored his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the left circle.
Rookie Ethan Werek made it 4-1 when he scored his second professional goal six minutes into the second period.
Mike Hoffman, who spent last season playing for the Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland, drew assists on Arsene’s and Werek’s goals.
It was his first AHL points since Dec. 18, 2009 when he scored for the Hartford Wolf Pack.
“I know my role,” said Hoffman, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound left wing who joined the Pirates about three weeks ago. “I’m not going out there to score goals every shift.
I’m going out there to change momentum and be good defensively.”
“He’s out there to keep things calm,” Edwards said, “but he can make some plays.” NOTES: Following leading scorer Andy Miele’s second call-up of the season to the Phoenix Coyotes, center Andy Pouliot moved between Trotter and MacLean on the Pirates’ first line …
Portland defenseman Maxim Goncharov was a healthy scratch …
The Pirates are scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. today for their trip to Glens Falls, N.Y., where they will play the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday night.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: