NORFOLK, Va. — The Portland Pirates rode some second-period momentum for a while Friday night, then fell off the train.
Goals by Jordan Martinook and Ethan Werek were equaled by those of Norfolk’s John Kurtz and Alex Grant to force an overtime period.
And then it happened: A tripping penalty called on Portland’s Mathieu Brodeur set up a power-play goal by the Admirals’ Richard Rakell to send the Pirates to a 3-2 defeat.
“He got stuck flatfooted there,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “When you take a penalty in overtime, I would say about 50 percent of the time you pay the price.”
In this case the price ran Portland’s record to 4-0-1-1 over its past six games, but it isn’t something that has Edwards euphoric.
The Pirates earned hard-working goals by Martinook and Werek, and held a 2-0 lead in the second period after being outshot 13-4 in the first.
Both goals were blue-collar efforts, Martinook shooting behind Admiral goalie John Gibson just after Portland’s Brandon McMillan had skated between them.
Werek was rewarded for wrestling the puck from Norfolk defenseman Kevin Gagne on the forecheck. Kyle Hagel retrieved the puck and sent it toward Darian Dziurzynski, whose shot was rejected by Gibson but rebounded home by Werek for a 2-0 lead.
“But we didn’t do enough of that,” Edwards said. “Our first period wasn’t good and our third period wasn’t good. We didn’t have enough ‘A’ players tonight. We’ve got to be much better tomorrow.
“The Providence game – a 4-3 overtime win – we didn’t play well. Tonight we didn’t play well. I’m not real happy with how our game is now, not for five of the last six periods. It hasn’t been good enough.”
The key flaw Friday came when Kurtz scored for Norfolk, banking in a shot off Portland goalie Mark Visentin with 19.7 seconds left in the second period.
“That was huge,” Edwards said. “There’s no excuse for giving up that goal that late in the period. We had all of the momentum in the world. They have no momentum and it gave it to them.”
Alex Grant tied things in the final period, setting up the overtime and Rakell’s heroics. Norfolk was 1 of 24 on the power play going into OT.
The Pirates get another chance Saturday night in the second game of the series.