PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates came into Tuesday night’s game against the Connecticut Whale looking for a record ninth consecutive win in a home game.
All they did was lay an egg.
Kris Newbury scored two goals as the Whale cruised to a 6-1 win before a crowd of 2,616 at the Cumberland County Civic Center to snap the Pirates’ four-game win streak and hand them their first home loss since Dec. 2.
“It was a stinker of a game right from the start,” Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “The building was quiet. Our team was quiet. There just was no environment or atmosphere, and we didn’t create it. We have to create that when our building’s quiet, and there’s no one in the building. We have to create an environment and we didn’t do that.”
It was the Pirates’ first home game since the call-up of five of their top players by the Phoenix Coyotes following the end of the NHL lockout.
“Obviously, when you have players out of your lineup, it’s different, but it is what it is,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to find a way and figure it out. We played fairly well this weekend without those guys in the lineup. Tonight, it wasn’t about any particular player. We didn’t work hard enough. We didn’t execute good enough. We just weren’t good enough tonight.”
The Whale, who lost their first three games of the season against the Pirates, were perhaps the AHL team least affected by the end of the lockout. The parent New York Rangers called up just two of their players.
“We just didn’t have enough guys going,” Portland left wing Rob Klinkhammer said. “We were a little flat. We just couldn’t generate anything. We were losing all the battles and didn’t have our feet going.”
A turnover on Portland’s first power play resulted in the Whale’s first goal. It came 13 minutes into first period when defenseman Blake Parlett picked off an errant pass and fed Kelsey Tessier for his fifth goal. The Pirates tied the game at 7:27 of the second period when defenseman Mathieu Brodeur’s blast from the left point went in off the back of goalie Cam Talbot’s right pad after caroming off the backwall.
The Whale quickly regained the momentum when Newbury and J.T. Miller scored less than a minute apart in the second period.
Logan Pyett, Brandon Segal and Newbury scored in the third period for the Whale.
NOTES: Forward Jeff Nelson, goalie Maxime Ouellet and defenseman Patrick Boileau are this year’s nominees for the Portland Pirates Hall of Fame. On-line voting started Tuesday. The inductee will be announced Feb. 15. The AHL’s experiment with hybrid icing will end Friday night. For the rest of the season, skaters will resume racing to touch the puck on a possible icing call.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: