PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates gave their playoff hopes a boost Saturday night, pulling out a 5-4 win over the Worcester Sharks in a shootout at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The victory moved the Pirates into a tie with the Manchester Monarchs in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth from the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Pirates have three games left, while the Monarchs have four games remaining.
“It just puts a little bit of pressure on (Manchester),” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “They have a game in hand, but now they know we’re right there.”
Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Brett Sterling nailed down the victory by scoring in the shootout. Portland goalie Peter Mannino stopped all four of the shots he faced.
A fracas broke out following Mannino’s final save.
“I was giving my goalie a tap and the next thing I know there were gloves all over the place,” said defenseman Nick Ross, who had a goal and two assists. “I didn’t know what happened. I don’t know who started it, but it was definitely interesting.”
Worcester left wing Jimmy Bonneau and defenseman Matt Pelech received game misconducts. No Portland players received penalties as a result of the brawl.
The Pirates received a thunderous standing ovation after the last Worcester player left the ice.
“It was the loudest I’ve ever heard it in there,” Ross said. “It really is exciting when your fans get behind you like that.”
The Pirates, who have won six of their last seven at home, had to come from behind three times.
Worcester forward Nathaniel Moon opened the scoring 46 seconds into the game by redirecting Ben Guite’s pass across the front of the crease inside the left post for his 12th goal of the season.
Less than four minutes later, Nathan Werek tied the score.
Worcester regained the lead when Sena Acolatse swept a shot from the bottom of the left circle inside the near post for a power-play goal less than eight minutes into the game.
Ross tied it just two minutes later as the Pirates converted a two-man advantage.
A little more than two minutes later, the Sharks took the lead again when Curt Gogol jammed in a rebound.
Tyler Eckford made it 3-3 less than three minutes into the second period when he scored his 10th goal of the season on a power play.
Werek snapped the tie early in the third when he turned a feed from Ross into his 10th goal. But Worcester rookie defenseman Matt Tennyson scored his first goal as a pro on a power play with less than 10 minutes left.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: