- By PAUL BETIT
PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates are getting into the habit of winning extremely tight hockey games.
It’s a good habit.
“Winning is addictive,” Portland veteran center Alexandre Bolduc said. “Once you’re winning, and you see that what you’re doing works, it rubs off on everyone.”
Bolduc and Andy Meile each scored goals during the first 15 minutes Saturday night and rookie goalie Mark Visentin made 39 saves to make sure their goals stood up as the Pirates eked out a 2-1 win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before 4,977 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
It was the 10th win in the last 12 games for the Atlantic Division leading Pirates. It also was the 10th time in 12 games that a game was decided by one goal.
“We’re just playing more the Coyotes style, right now,” Bolduc said. “That’s the way they win all their games. We’ve tried to focus on having that one-goal mentality for all our games.”
The Pirates are in the second season as the AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes.
“We have very unselfish guys, right now,” Bolduc said. “When we get that lead, we don’t have guys cheating trying to get that extra goal. We’re playing the right way, and that’s why we keep winning these close games.”
Visentin turned in another strong performance. In his last five starts, the 20-year-old goalie, who alternates with veteran Chad Johnson, has allowed just five goals while compiling a .970 goals-against average, stopping 160 of 165 shots.
“When you play the game out there, it’s really a game of fine details and playing our system and we have to give credit to the guys in front,” Visentin said. “It’s really important in this league that guys try to put traffic in front of you and it makes it hard on the goalie, but the defense has made sure I can see pucks and, more importantly, they’re cleaning up the rebounds that I’ve left for them.”
Bolduc scored his team-high 16th goal of the season less than eight minutes into the game to send Portland into the early lead. Sprung by defenseman David Rundblad’s outlet pass, Bolduc scored off the rush, snapping in a low hard shot from the top of the left circle.
Miele made it 2-0 when he deflected the puck past goalie Anders Nilsson for his 11th goal. It came on a power play 15 minutes into the game, after rookie Brendan Shinnimin got his stick on a rebound in the slot and sent the puck toward the left side of the goal.
With less than a minute left, Blair Riley slipped in a wide-angled shot from the left for his first goal of the season, moments after Visentin, who made 15 saves during the first period, stopped him on a breakaway.
NOTES: Brett MacLean, who retired from hockey because of a heart condition following one season with Pirates, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … For the fifth consecutive game, undisclosed injuries kept defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Maxim Goncharov out of the Portland lineup. … An upper-body injury kept Pirate rookie center Jordan Martinook off the ice for the 11th game.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: