PORTLAND – It may have been the last game at the Cumberland County Civic Center for a number of Portland Pirates, so they wanted to make sure their possible last performance was a memorable one Tuesday night.
Before the week is out, some of the Pirates are expected to be called up to play for the parent Phoenix Coyotes following the end of the 113-day NHL lockout.
“We haven’t talked about who is going and when they’re going,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said, “but the reality is we’ll probably lose a handful of guys really soon, but other people have to step up.”
That process already may have started.
Rookie forwards Brendan Shinnimin and Chris Brown each scored two goals to spark the Pirates to a 7-3 win against the Worcester Sharks before a crowd of 2,800.
It was the 11th win in 13 games for Portland, which leads the second-place Sharks by five points in the Atlantic Division.
The Pirates, who have scored seven goals in regulation three times this season, turned in a dominating performance after spotting Worcester a 2-0 lead during the first 10 minutes.
“They came out really hard, but I think we battled back really well and put some points on the board,” said Brown, who scored his 11th and 12th goals in the third period to put the game out of reach. “We haven’t had that kind of game in a while.”
Ten of the Pirates’ previous 12 games had been decided by one goal.
“We just stuck to the game plan,” Brown said. “Honestly, we were keeping it simple. We were getting pucks deep, crashing the net and shooting a little more, and it generates some chances for us.”
The score was tied 2-2 after one period.
The Sharks took a 2-0 lead after Denny Urban, who spent his first three pro seasons in the ECHL, scored his first AHL goal with Worcester on a two-man advantage and Brodie Reid scored on a shot from the top of the slot.
Alexandre Bolduc began the comeback with less than eight minutes left in the period by directing Chris Conner’s drop pass from behind the Worcester net past goalie Alex Stalock for his team-high 17th goal.
With less than two minutes left in the period, Shinnimin tied the score by putting in a rebound during Portland’s second power play.
After Reid put in a rebound for his sixth goal to snap the tie less than three minutes into the second period, Portland scored three goals over the next 10 minutes to move into a 5-3 lead.
Evan Brophey made it 3-3 by finishing off a rush with his third goal of the season. Defenseman Michael Stone snapped the tie by scoring his sixth goal during a power play.
With less than eight minutes left in the period, Shinnimin scored his sixth goal on a breakaway during a penalty kill for the Pirates’ fourth short-handed goal this season.
“Tonight, we came out pretty flat and they got a couple of quick ones, and the main thing is we didn’t get down on the bench,” Shinnimin said. “We stayed positive and tried to find positives in our game. We came out in the second and third (periods) and probably played our best hockey as of late.”
The Pirates held a 30-15 edge in shots during the final two periods.
Goalie Chad Johnson, who spent his first three AHL seasons with Connecticut, made 30 saves to run his career record to 10-3-1 against Worcester.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: