PORTLAND – When the Portland Pirates hosted the Manchester Monarchs Sunday afternoon, all Chris Conner wanted was to get the game over with quickly.
So the right winger ended it by scoring his 10th goal of the season seven seconds into overtime to lift the Pirates to a 4-3 win before 1,697 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“We kind of let them get back into the game a couple of times so we wanted to finish it as quick as possible,” he said.
The win enabled the Pirates to pull closer to the Providence Bruins, who hold a two-point advantage in the race for first place in the Atlantic Division, but it didn’t make Coach Ray Edwards happy.
“When it’s all said and done, points right now are important and we’ve got to find a way to continue to pile them up, but I’m not enamored with our game right now,” he said.
“We’re not playing well enough. We’re in spurts, we’re inconsistent. I didn’t think we played a very good hockey game tonight, but we found a way to get points and that’s important, but we’ve got to get back to work here.”
The Monarchs were able come from behind twice in the third period to tie the score.
“I think we’ve got to get back to what makes us good, working hard and moving our feet,” Conner said. “I think there’s times we get away from that.”
“We’re just not playing a complete game,” said Andy Miele, who had three assists. “The goals that they (got) were given to them. We’ve just got to be smarter with the puck, get pucks deep, get pucks to the net and not turn over pucks at the blue lines.”
Manchester’s Brandon Kozun opened the scoring 14 minutes into the game when he got his stick on a loose puck in the left circle and rifled a shot inside the near post past netminder Mike Lee for his 19th goal of the season.
The Pirates took a 2-1 lead during the second period.
Less than two minutes in, rookie forward Phil Lane tied the score by putting in a shot from near the bottom of the left circle past goaltender Martin Jones.
With 3:39 left, defenseman Maxim Goncharov, who has missed half of the Pirates’ first 52 games because of injury, scored his first goal of the season from the top of the slot during a power play.
Colton Yellow Horn tied the score less than three minutes into the third period, finishing off a rush with his third goal.
With 14 minutes left, the Pirates moved into a 3-2 lead when Lane flipped in a rebound for his seventh goal.
Less than three minutes later, Anthony Stewart deflected defenseman Chris Huxley’s shot from the left point to send the game into OT.
NOTES: Portland goalies Chad Johnson (upper body) and Mark Visentin (lower body) could return to practice by the end of the week, but both remain questionable for next weekend’s games. In their absence, Lee has won six of seven starts. The Pirates signed defenseman Eric Baier to a professional tryout contract, but he didn’t suit up Sunday. A lower-body injury kept former Lewiston Maineiac Marc-Andre Cliche out of the Manchester lineup for the ninth consecutive game.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: