LEWISTON — From his knees, Portland goalie Louis Domingue looked over his left shoulder and saw the puck in the net to give Springfield a 4-3 shootout victory Friday night. He got to his skates, whacked his stick so hard it splintered, kicked a dangling piece of it and stomped off the ice in the direction of the Pirates locker room.
For the fifth time this season, the Pirates earned a point but lost a shootout at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“We’ve got to find a way to close that game out,” said Coach Ray Edwards, whose team had taken a 3-2 lead early in the third period before Springfield rallied to tie with a little more than eight minutes left in regulation. “The game got tight and we got a little tight. We kind of shrunk a little bit.”
The Falcons, who pulled into a tie for first in the Eastern Conference, outshot Portland 14-3 in the first period after the Pirates had dominated the first two (29-13).
Much of Springfield’s early time was spent killing penalties, five of them before the first Pirate went to the box.
But only one of those Portland power plays resulted in a goal, however, thanks to a Springfield’s AHL-best 90-percent penalty-killing unit.
“They’re really aggressive and they challenge you all over the ice.” Edwards said.
A crowd of 2,374 saw the teams finish regulation tied at 3, then play five minutes of scoreless OT with four skaters each.
In the shootout, each team scored once on its first four opportunities. On the fifth, Portland’s Daine Todd failed to keep the puck under control while Springfield’s Cody Goloubef found an opening to Domingue’s stick side.
It marked the seventh shootout at home for the Pirates, who are 2-5 in such contests.
Portland’s Brandon McMillan and Springfield’s Andrew Joudrey each had scored in the shootout prior to Goloubef’s goal.
It also marked the the first of four home games in eight days for the Pirates, who reach the midpoint of their season at the end of that stretch Friday.
In overtime, Portland’s Chris Brown and Todd each had an opportunity, but former Pirate Mike McKenna (31 saves) denied both shots.
Portland’s only lead came in the fifth minute of the third period. Phil Lane, out with an injury since early November, tipped in a slapshot by Randy Jones to make it 3-2. It was Lane’s first of the season.
“I was really excited to get him back,” Edwards said of Lane. “He’s a big body that moves well and we need him to be a good player for us.”
Springfield made it 3-3 on a deflected slapshot by Goloubof three seconds after the expiration of a Portland penalty.
The game had been tied at 2 after two. Lucas Lessio notched his second goal of the game for the only score in the second period, after Andy Miele won a faceoff and drew the puck back.
The Pirates had trailed 2-1 after one despite outshooting Springfield 16-6 and pressuring McKenna on four power plays. A Pirate in 2007-08, McKenna allowed only one goal in those 20 minutes when Lessio buried McMillan’s rebound on a power play.
The Falcons scored twice in the first. Cody Bass tipped in a slapshot by Blake Parlett and Spencer Machacek was the recipient of a set-up pass from Michael Chaput, who spent three seasons in the Colisee as a member of the Lewiston Maniacs.
Domingue finished with 26 saves.
NOTES: Defenseman Rostislav Klesla is expected to rejoin the Pirates Saturday after being sent down from Phoenix. Drafted fourth overall in 2000 by Columbus, Klesla has a goal and four assists in 25 games with the Coyotes this season. …
Entering the game, Adirondack, St. John’s, Hersey, Syracuse and Worcester stood between the Pirates and the eighth and final playoff berth.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: