LEWISTON — Shaking off a desultory first period Tuesday night, the Portland Pirates came out flying for the second period by peppering Worcester’s goaltender with shots until opening a lead. They appeared destined to head to the third period still in front of the Sharks.
Instead, the Sharks took advantage of a defensive lapse and scored with 3.7 seconds left to tie, then completely dominated Portland over the final 20 minutes for a 6-3 victory before a crowd listed as 1,632 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“You don’t want to overreact after one loss,” said Portland Coach Ray Edwards. “The emotions are high right now so you’ve got to be smart. But at the end of the day, the effort, we got outcompeted by about 50 of that 60 minutes.”
Dan DaSilva had a hat trick for the Sharks, one of five teams that stands between the Pirates and the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Worcester tied the score at 3 in the waning seconds of the second period when Travis Oleksuk tipped in a blast from the blue line from Matt Tennyson after Yanni Gourde dug the puck out from behind the net.
The Pirates had taken a 3-2 lead on a power-play goal by Brandon Gormley with assists from Brandon Yip and Lucas Lessio.
A Yip tip seven minutes into the period had given Portland a 2-1 lead after an initial shot from the right point by Daine Todd. Lessio received the second assist.
The goal capped an 11-shot flurry by the Pirates to open the second after playing on their heels for much of the first. When Worcester finally put a shot on net in the second, the result was a Tennyson goal after he gathered in a deflection and made it 2-2.
“The first period we didn’t show up on time,” Edwards said. “The second period was much better, but it was still probably only 12 or 13 minutes of good hockey. And the third period was obviously unacceptable.
“Overall, it was an unacceptable performance. We were embarrassing. I feel bad for the fans that did show up to have to see that.”
The loss was the fourth in a row for the Pirates, who begin the second half of their 76-game regular season Friday night against Bridgeport.
“We played a couple good games this weekend and lost, but I thought we were playing well,” Edwards said. “When you follow it up with a game like that, it makes you have some concerns.”
Luis Domingue made 41 saves for the Pirates, who were outshot 18-3 in the third.
“We gave him absolutely no help,” Edwards said. “We allowed first shots, second shots, third shots. It was not a pretty performance by our standard, that’s for sure.”
The winner came on a power play three minutes into the third when DaSilva tipped in a shot by Sean Acolatse. Worcester then killed off a penalty before DaSilva scored on a set play following a faceoff from the right circle.
“We do different faceoff plays,” said Worcester Coach Roy Sommer. “Most of the time they don’t work. That one worked.”
Acolatse finished off the scoring with a little under four minutes left on a shot from the blue line that deflected past Domingue. Harri Sateri stopped 25 shots for the Sharks.
It was a rough first period for Rusty Klesla. He was sent off three times for minor infractions: roughing, tripping and delay of game (flipping the puck over the glass in Portland’s defensive end).
Still, the Pirates managed to kill off all three penalties and headed into the second tied at 1 thanks to a late goal by Lessio, his 13th of the season.
Gormley had sent a long pass toward the left faceoff circle and Lessio needed all of his 73 inches, plus stick, to stretch for the puck. But gather it in he did, and ahead of the Worcester defense. A quick deke and a backhand flip past Sateri gave Portland the tying goal.
Worcester had taken a 1-0 lead in the game’s 12th minute when DaSilva knocked in a loose puck from near the left post.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or [email protected]