WORCESTER, Mass. – Frustration occupied a seat on the Pirates’ bus Sunday night during the ride home to Portland after a rough weekend.
The Pirates spotted the Worcester Sharks a 3-0 lead, rallied to tie it early in the third period, then coughed up the go-ahead goal moments later as they lost for the third straight day, 5-3.
Adam Comrie’s tiebreaking goal at 1:57 of the third period came just 23 seconds after Jordan Martinook pulled Portland into a 3-3 tie.
“It’s disappointing,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “We battled hard to come back.”
The Pirates, coming off back-to-back overtime losses against Manchester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, fell behind 2-0 in the first period, then gave up another goal in the second before starting their comeback.
“The (first) three goals we gave up are all goals that shouldn’t happen. We weren’t prepared to start the game.
“We took a bad penalty (in the first period) and it ended up in our net.”
Edwards was referring to an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Joel Rechlicz at 16:33 of the first period. Bracken Kearns flipped in the rebound of a Danny Groulx shot six seconds after Rechlicz went to the box, giving Worcester a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks opened the scoring at 5:11 when James Livingston beat Mathieu Brodeur in a one-on-one battle and slid a backhander under Chad Johnson (22 saves).
“There were two one-on-ones we lose,” Edwards said. “We lose an early one-on-one and a late one-on-one just a battle, we lose, and it’s in the net.”
Portland caught a break when Atlantic Division leader Providence lost 4-2 to Connecticut, which left the Pirates four points behind the Bruins in the race for the division title and home ice in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
“We’re on thin ice,” Andy Miele said. “That’s on us because we’re obviously not playing our best hockey right now. This is the time of the year when we should be playing our best hockey.
“We have to get back to practice this week and figure out what we can do to get back to the way we were playing midseason.”
Worcester made it 3-0 at 5:55 of the second when Daniil Tarasov whipped home the rebound of a Nick Petricki shot.
Portland finally beat Harri Sateri (29 saves) at 11:14 of the second during a power play when David Rundblad scored a slap shot from just inside the blue line.
Alexandre Bolduc sliced another goal off Portland’s deficit 43 seconds into the third period when he scored on a one-timer after Darian Dziurzynski’s shot rebounded off the boards.
Martinook tied it at 1:34 on a wraparound. Just 23 seconds later, Comrie beat Johnson with a wrist shot.
“It’s obviously tough when you work that hard to get the game tied up,” Miele said. “But they deserved that win. We’re taking penalties, which isn’t good, and it’s not who we are.”
Whether Portland wins the division or earns home ice may be the least of Edwards’ concerns.
“It’s not about the standings,” Edwards said. “It’s about playing the right way, and we’re not playing the right way.” COMING UP
WEDNESDAY: Adirondack Phantoms at Pirates, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Pirates, 7 p.m.