LEWISTON — Veteran goalie Mike McKenna outdueled Portland Pirates netminder Mike Lee as the Springfield Falcons came from behind to pull out a 2-1 win in a shootout Saturday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
McKenna, after making 35 saves during regulation and overtime, stopped four of five Pirates during the shootout.
“Shootouts are a crap shoot, no matter what,” said McKenna, who played for the Pirates during the 2008-09 season. “Honestly, in shootouts, I just try to have fun. You can go out there and mentally kill yourself in shootouts if you overthink things. I’ve just got to be loose and be able to adapt on the fly.”
During the shootout, only defenseman Daine Todd got the puck past McKenna.
Cody Goloubef and Sean Collins scored in the shootout for the Falcons, the Atlantic Division leaders.
Scoreless after two periods, the game seemed headed into overtime from the start.
“It was a really highly contested game,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “There wasn’t much space. Every time you were on the ice you paid a price. Every puck was contested.”
Despite the loss, Edwards said his players got something positive from the experience.
“We really haven’t had a game like that,” he said. “It was great for development for your kids playing those types of game.”
For the second consecutive game, veteran center Gilbert Brule scored on a breakaway to send the Pirates into the lead. This time he stole the puck in the neutral zone and backhanded the puck over McKenna for a short-handed goal less than six minutes into the third period.
Darrell Boyce got the equalizer with less than four minutes left, tipping in Goloubef’s blast from the right point while the Falcons were on the power play.
The game had a defensive tone from the outset. Lee, making his first start since Oct. 20, and the well-traveled McKenna, with his eighth AHL team, combined to make 22 saves during the first period.
The Pirates had two power plays in the period but wasted most of those four minutes defending their own end.
The scoreless second period was characterized by the same grind-it-out style. The Pirates managed just one shot on goal during a 1-minute, 14-second segment when they enjoyed a two-man advantage.
NOTES: Connor Murphy became the third Pirate to suit up for parent Phoenix this season when he played in Saturday’s win against Tampa Bay. Earlier this season, forwards Jordan Szwarz, who is still up with the Coyotes, and Lucas Lessio played in their first NHL game. … Late in the second period, Todd left the ice with an apparent broken nose. He returned to during the third period wearing a full cage.