PORTLAND – The Pirates ran into penalty problems during the second period Saturday night and it cost them dearly as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins took advantage by rallying to beat Portland for the second time in eight days.
Joey Mormima and Trevor Smith scored third-period goals as the Pens pulled out a 3-2 win before 6,301 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“We had all the momentum and we ran into all of those penalties and they got all the momentum back,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “The penalties sucked the life out of us.”
With 15 games left in the regular season, the Pirates now trail Atlantic Division leader Providence by six points. The three division winners and the next five teams with the best records from the Eastern Conference qualify for the playoffs.
The Pirates spent more than half of the second period trying to kill four penalties, including a five-minute major to defenseman Maxim Goncharov for a boarding call that resulted in his ejection.
“The second period was the difference,” Edwards said. “They were on the power play for the last 10 minutes of the period, so there was not much five-on-five time there, but in the third period, five on five, they were better than us.”
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead less than four minutes into the game when Andy Miele and Boris Vilabek turned turnovers into goals 30 seconds apart.
Miele scored his 13th goal of the season on a breakaway set up by a steal by Ethan Werek. Moments later, Vilabek, a veteran defenseman playing his 18th game for the Pirates, put in a long shot for his second goal after intercepting a clearing pass at the left point.
The Penguins, who pulled out a 4-3 overtime win at the Civic Center last Saturday night, closed to within a goal 12 minutes into the second period when Brian Dumoulin, a rookie defenseman from Biddeford, put in a wrist shot from near the top of the right circle for his fifth goal while his team was enjoying its second power play of the period.
Mormima, another defenseman, tied the score just over a minute into the third period by putting in a rebound for his third goal. Smith, who has scored four goals in four games against the Pirates this season, notched his 18th of the season by putting in a rebound with more than 10 minutes left to play.
“Really, it comes down to work, execution and compete level, and (the Penguins) deserve a lot of credit,” Edwards said. “Once they got that lead, they shut us down.”
NOTES: Rookie right wing Brendan Shinnimin was scratched from the Portland lineup for the first time this season. He was the only player to appear in all of the Pirates’ first 60 games. … In his first game for the Pirates since Jan. 19, right wing Nick Johnson, who was sent back to Portland by the parent Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the week, played 14:38.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: