LEWISTON — The Portland Pirates blew a two-goal lead in the third period for the second consecutive game Sunday afternoon and paid the price for it.
The St. John’s IceCaps scored five unanswered goals in the first 18½ minutes of the third period to pull out a 6-5 win before an announced crowd of 1,946 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The latest loss followed a 5-4 setback in Manchester Saturday night, when the Pirates took a 4-2 lead into the third period.
On Sunday, the Pirates led 3-1 after two periods before suffering a general collapse during the third.
Portland Coach Ray Edwards took the blame for his team’s third-period swoon.
“For whatever reason, whatever I’m saying or whatever we’re drawing up, whatever system we’re playing, you know, whatever situation we’re in, we’re not doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re not getting the job done, (and) I’m the one who is responsible.”
Momentum took a giant shift 16 seconds into the third, when John Albert scored a shorthanded goal.
“We just had to win a battle,” Edwards said. “We’re light. They came at us and we just weren’t ready to play. It’s unacceptable.”
Blair Riley, Will O’Neill, Jerome Samson and Kael Mouillierat scored goals over the next 18 minutes as the IceCaps, 7-1 against the Pirates this season, opened a 6-3 lead and finished their six-game road trip with a 4-1-0-1 record.
Chris Brown and Tobias Rieder scored for Portland in the final minute, but their goals came too late to prevent the Pirates’ third straight loss.
“I don’t know what else to say,” Edwards said. “It’s not good enough. We’re not very good, right now.”
The score was tied at 1 at the end of the first period.
Reider, who has 18 goals in his rookie season, redirected defenseman David Rundblad’s blast from center point for a power-play goal 11 minutes into the game.
Albert tied with a minute left in the period on a power-play tip-in of his own.
The Pirates scored twice in the second period.
Less than four minutes in, veteran left wing Brandon McMillan scored his 11th goal of the season on the Pirates’ second power play of the game. It was McMillan’s third goal in two games.
Brandon Yip made it a two-goal lead at 17:33, scoring his sixth goal on a wide-angle shot from the right corner after intercepting a pass inside his own blue line and carrying the puck the length of the ice. His goal came 30 seconds after he stepped out of the penalty box.
NOTES: Veteran left wing Kyle Hagel returned to the Portland lineup after serving a two-game suspension for his actions during a Feb. 16 brawl with the Adirondack Phantoms. … Rundblad had two assists in his second game since being sent to the Pirates by the NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes on a conditioning assignment. … It was the first AHL start since 2012 for St. John’s goalie Tyler Beskorowany, who has split this season between the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Stars and the now defunct San Francisco Bulls.