MANCHESTER, N.H. — Throw conventional wisdom out the window; it didn’t apply during Manchester’s 6-4 AHL hockey win over Portland on Saturday night.
When the Pirates (1-2) were drastically outshot by the Monarchs (3-1), that’s when they took the lead. When the Pirates took control of the shots margin, that’s when the Monarchs pulled ahead.
Whatever the math says, the Pirates say they are well aware of the causes: penalties and power plays. Portland built a 2-0 lead in the first period but watched it sail away as the Pirates first allowed a pair of power-play goals, then allowed a shorthanded goal in a span of less than 10 minutes.
“What happens (on special teams) is you start running around, not doing the things that you normally do,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “You have to get a hold of that, harness that situation, and we didn’t do a very good job of that tonight.”
Momentum had already swung toward Manchester when the third period started with a 3-3 tie. Portland started the period with a 5-on-3 advantage, but wasted its chances. Portland still had a man advantage 2:18 into the third period when a Manchester clearance pass caromed off the boards at mid-ice and drifted ahead to a charging Tyler Toffoli, who ripped a shot past Portland goalie Chad Johnson for a 4-3 lead.
With 10:58 remaining, Manchester’s Linden Vey picked up a loose puck and skated in unopposed to slip a shot under Johnson for a 5-3 lead.
Portland’s Brendan Shinnimin closed the gap to 5-4 with 6:35 remaining when he knocked home his own rebound. But Andrei Loktionov capped Manchester’s win with his empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining.
Portland closed with a 10-6 shots-on-goal advantage in the third period, but the Pirates had used up their good fortune in the first period, when they built a 2-0 lead.
Just 44 seconds into the first period, things were going Portland’s way. That’s when Alexandre Bolduc skated in on the left side of the net and fired a shot at Manchester goalie Martin Jones. The puck slipped into the top of the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Pirates netted a 2-0 lead thanks to a charging penalty on Manchester. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot from the point was redirected by Chris Conner, who was skating unguarded directly in front of the net. All of that came in spite of a 15-6 shots-on-goal deficit.
“When we were up a couple of goals, we felt we were playing good,” Conner said. “We knew we were in a good spot, but then they scored a couple of quick goals.”
Manchester scored three goals in a span of 5:36 near the end of the second period to take momentum.
Portland was cruising along, leading 2-0, when Tanner Pearson scored his first career goal with 6:52 remaining in the second on a redirect, then scored again with 4:23 left to tie the score.
Conner scored a pretty goal, stickhandling around Jones to give Portland a 3-2 lead with 3:50 remaining, but Manchester’s Slava Voynov hammered a one-timer from the right faceoff circle to tie the game at 3-3 after two periods.
The first two Manchester goals came on power plays, while Voynov scored just after a penalty expired. The Monarchs finished the night 2-for-6 on power plays.