MANCHESTER, N.H. — Left wing Lucas Lessio made a triumphant return to the lineup and Louis Domingue was impressive in net to lead the Portland Pirates to a 4-1 win over the AHL-leading Manchester Monarchs on Thursday night in the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Lessio, back after missing five games with an injury, scored Portland’s first two goals on the power play and assisted on the third as the Pirates broke the game open late.
“It’s good to be back in the lineup and contribute,” Lessio said. “It’s a big win. These guys are at the top of the league and they came out strong. We weathered the storm and got the two points.”
The Pirates got to the rink less than 90 minutes before the 7 p.m. game – about an hour later than Coach Ray Edwards prefers – because of the snowstorm and road conditions.
“We didn’t start the greatest but we hung around,” Edwards said.
That was due in large part to Domingue, who finished with 34 saves, 13 of them in the first period while the Pirates were being outshot, 14-5. He even had an assist on Lessio’s winning goal.
“Louie was our first star tonight, I thought,” Lessio said. “He really kept us in there.”
It was 1-1 with less than half a period remaining when Lessio got behind the Manchester defenders and collected a long, perfect pass from defenseman Randy Jones. Lessio broke in on Manchester goalie Jean-Francois Berube and beat him with a forehand shot as he was being hooked and sliding into the crease. Domingue had given the puck to Jones.
Lessio picked up his assist just over two minutes later on a Brendan Shinnimin goal that made it 3-1 with 5:14 to play.
Andy Miele finished the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:33 to go.
The teams swapped goals in the first period, the Monarchs scoring early and the Pirates late.
Manchester’s Hunter Bishop threw the puck toward the crease from the left corner and it deflected off a defender and past Domingue 3:31 into the game
Lessio got that one back with his first goal with 2:38 left in the period. Jones kept the puck in at the left point and got it ahead to Lessio. He moved in on Berube and beat him with a quick backhand.
Domingue made a couple of key saves late in the second period to keep it 1-1.
“He probably had two or three saves in each period that were crucial,” Edwards said.