PORTLAND – While efforts were being made off the ice to improve the team, the Portland Pirates came from behind to pull out a 3-2 win Friday night against the Connecticut Whale.
Ryan Duncan, the 2007 Hobey Baker Award winner from the University of North Dakota, scored the winning goal, finishing a three-on-two break with backhander with less than nine minutes left.
It was only the Pirates’ fifth win in their last 15 games. With 19 games left, they trail the Manchester Monarchs by three points in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot out of the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
“I think the guys in the locker room, the coaching staff and everyone in the organization, we’re not giving up,” Duncan said. “Even though we’re on the outside looking in, I think we have a lot of belief in the guys in the locker room. We’ve got a good team here, guys with a lot of experience, and up to this point we’ve kind of underachieved.”
During the game, the Pirates completed a deal with the St. John’s IceCaps. The IceCaps loaned goaltender Peter Mannino and forward Kenndal McArdle to Portland in exchange for forward Brock Trotter, who missed the last six games because of an upper-body injury.
“(An) AHL loan is basically a trade, but since its after the NHL deadline the loaning team is the only team eligible to call them to the NHL,” Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Brad Treliving said in an email. “(We’re) just trying to help Portland. Still working on some other things.”
AHL teams must have their 22-player playoff rosters set by 3 p.m. Monday.
“Mannino has had some success in the league, but he hasn’t been able to play much in St. John’s and we just felt we needed to have another goaltender to push,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said.
“We don’t have a lot of grit, and McArdle is a harder player who has got some experience.”
The Pirates rallied in the third period to pull out a win for sixth time this season.
Connecticut took a 2-1 lead less than 13 minutes into the second period when Wade Redden and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault scored 23 seconds apart.
Patrick O’Sullivan opened the scoring for Portland earlier in the period when he scored his 10th of the season on a breakaway, set up by Marc-Antoine Pouliot’s seeing-eye pass through two defenders.
Five minutes after Connecticut took the lead, O’Sullivan appeared to tie the game with a shot from the top of the right circle, but the goal was waved off when referee Jamie Koharski ruled a Portland player was in the crease.
O’Sullivan did help the Pirates tie it early in the third period, however. Defenseman Nathan Oystrick made it 2-2 when he tipped O’Sullivan’s shot past Chad Johnson for his 10th goal.
Not much happened offensively for either team in first period. The Whale held a 9-6 edge in shots, but five of those shots came during two power plays.
Less than three minutes into the game, Portland goalie Justin Pogge stopped right wing Scott Tanski after rookie defenseman Mark Louis coughed up the puck in his own end.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: