MANCHESTER, N.H. — Pirates netminder Mark Visentin lasted only one period, giving up four goals against the hottest team in the AHL’s East.
There wasn’t much Visentin – or replacement Louis Domingue – could do about the Manchester Monarchs’ net party at Verizon Wireless Arena. The Monarchs scored five goals in the first 23 minutes en route to a 6-2 victory before a Friday night crowd of 3,729.
The hosts scored on power plays, one-timers, rebounds and a last-second highlight goal by Jordan Weal in the first period. Manchester (20-5-1-4) became the first team in the conference to win 20 games, while Portland dropped to 10-10-1-4.
“They played fast, and we played slow. It was a simple as that,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “That was something we talked about all week. When you don’t play fast and think fast, (Manchester) will take advantage of you.”
Portland’s Andy Miele, coming off a five-point night against Worcester, was shut down. Jordan Martinook and Keven Veilleux scored Portland’s only goals. Martinook beat goalie Jean-Francois Berube in the last minute of the first period, providing a rare moment of celebration for Portland.
But it was an ugly opening 20 minutes.
Visentin made his fourth straight start against the Monarchs and didn’t have much help. Manchester scored first when Nick Shore banged home an easy power-play goal. Midway through the first period, Brian O’Neill upped the lead to 2-0 after an expired power play.
“We gave them some Grade A scoring chances,” Pirates forward Brandon Yip said. “Any goalie in the league is going to give up goals with those types of chances.”
O’Neill and Weal scored again to give Manchester a 4-1 lead entering the first intermission.
In three previous games against Manchester, Visentin posted a 1.89 goals against average. This time he gave up four goals in the first 19:57 – and he was done.
“It wasn’t our goalie’s fault,” Edwards said. “(Manchester) is a deep team and very skilled. You have to be prepared for it and manage the puck better.”
Domingue took the net for the second period, and Manchester scored within three minutes when Andy Andreoff notched his fifth goal. In the third period Tanner Pearson capped Manchester’s scoring.
Portland fought back in the third period by finishing checks and dropping the gloves. Darian Dziurzynksi fought Manchester’s Scott Sabourin, and then Chris Summers traded punches with Nick Deslauriers.
“I wish we would’ve shown that kind of life and toughness at the start of the game,” Edwards said.
Yip said the physical nature of the third period was a good sign for Portland. The teams meet again Thursday in Manchester.
“At least we showed some emotion and responded. It was clean and there were no dirty shots. It was nice to see our team show some pushback,” Yip said.