LEWISTON – The Portland Pirates came off their week-long Christmas break a little out of sync, but they got it together in time to pull out a 2-1 win against the Adirondack Phantoms Saturday night before a crowd of 3,875 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Defenseman Michael Stone scored a goal and had an assist as the Pirates eked out their 10th win in 13 games to tighten their grip on first place in the Atlantic Division.
It was quite an improvement from the last time the Pirates played the Phantoms.
In the Oct. 13 season opener for both teams, Adirondack held a 48-33 edge in shots while cruising to a 6-3 win at Glens Falls, N.Y.
This time, Portland held a decisive 33-25 edge in shots.
“Obviously, defensively, we didn’t give up too much,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said, “but we took too many penalties, and our killers did a nice job.”
Portland killed eight power plays before Jason Axeson scored his third goal of the season with less than three minutes left while Adirondack had a two-man advantage.
“If you give up that many penalties against players like (Brayden) Schenn and (Sean) Couturier, and you get out of it by giving up one penalty-play goal against you, you’re pretty lucky,” Edwards said. “That’s one area I didn’t like, but what I did like that after the first 10 minutes we settled down and started working.”
“I thought we were working real hard during the first 10 minutes, we just were playing too much run-and-gun and giving them too many chances,” Stone said. “As the game went on, we got better and better, and everybody was working hard.”
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead by scoring a pair of power-play goals during the second period.
Rookie defenseman Brandon Gormley opened the scoring less than two minutes into the period when he slid in a rebound from 12 feet out in the right circle for his third goal after goalie Scott Munroe stopped a long shot by Stone.
Rookie goalie Mark Visentin helped Portland to nurse its one-goal lead by making six of his 24 saves during an extended Adirondack penalty play. Three of those saves came during a 1:31 segment when the Phantoms skated with a two-man advantage.
With 27.5 seconds left in the period, and the Pirates skating with a two-man advantage, Stone turned a feed from Andy Miele into his fifth goal on a wide-angled shot from the right circle.
“We’ve got some talented defensemen and we’re not afraid to put pucks on the net,” Stone said. “We’ve got offensive guys, defensive guys and guys who do everything, so it’s no surprise we’re getting some offense from the back end.”
NOTES: An original Maine Mariner, Adirondack Phantoms coach Terry Murray spent parts of four seasons with the old AHL team. … Defensemen Maxim Goncharov and Oliver Ekman-Larsson were scratched from the Portland lineup for undisclosed injuries. … Pirates rookie right wing Phil Lane was a healthy scratch.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: