PORTLAND – The lowly Springfield Falcons caught the Portland Pirates on a bad night.
The Falcons, the last-place team in the AHL’s Northeast Division, eked out a 3-2 win before a crowd of 4,716 at the Cumberland County Civic Center against a team that has been battling the flu all week.
“We have had a bunch of guys with the flu,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “It’s running through. We’ve probably have had eight guys (sick) this week. It’s that bad stomach virus.”
The victory came exactly one week after the Pirates rolled to a 5-3 home win against Springfield, and it ended Portland’s four-game winning streak.
“Once a year, this usually happens to a team, where you get this flu that goes through, and we just happen to be going through it now,” Edwards said. “We had four guys come down with it this morning.”
The flu kept leading scorer Brett MacLean, forward Ryan Duncan and defenseman David Rundblad out of the lineup.
The Pirates, who still had enough firepower to hold a 27-10 edge in shots over the last two periods, got off to a slow start.
“The first period was bad,” Edwards said. “We were flat. Once we got going, we were fine. We spotted them the lead, but we gave them some life.”
Springfield rookie Cam Atkinson, a former Boston College player, opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the game when he deflected defenseman Brent Regner’s blast from center point. The puck trickled in off goalie Justin Pogge’s pads for Atkinson’s team-high 24th goal of the season.
Cal O’Reilly, in his fourth game with Portland since being sent down by the parent Phoenix Coyotes, scored his first goal for the Pirates in the second period. O’Reilly got his stick on a rebound and tied the game with a shot from the left circle. Patrick O’Sullivan, another recent addition to the Pirates, set up the goal by taking the puck away from defenseman Dalton Prout. Rookie goalie Paul Dainton ranged far out of the net to poke the puck away from O’Sullivan, but he couldn’t get back into the crease in time to stop O’Reilly’s shot.
Nearly four minutes later, Prout made up for his turnover by scoring his third goal of the season on a power play.
Dainton, a rookie making fifth start for Springfield, was the difference in the third period, when he made 14 of his 31 saves.
The Pirates tied the score with about 13 minutes remaining when defenseman Michael Stone put in a rebound from the slot for his sixth goal.
But Springfield defenseman David Savard was credited with the winning goal with 7:40 left after Portland defenseman Chris Sommers deflected the puck past Pogge while trying to block Savard’s shot from just inside the blue line.
“You can break the game down anyway you want,” Edwards said. “The reality is we had enough chances to get some points tonight. We didn’t bear down and we made a couple of mistakes.”
NOTES: A nose injury kept right wing Ashton Rome out of the Portland lineup.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: