LEWISTON — Through five months of the American Hockey League season, Mark Louis took the ice 36 times for the Portland Pirates without assisting on a goal.
A former stay-at-home defenseman making the transition to right wing, Louis returned to action Sunday afternoon after being a healthy scratch for two games and found himself, for the first time all season, on a line with left wing Lucas Lessio and center Brendan Shinnimin.
Their line produced four goals, three of them set up by Louis, as the Pirates ended a four-game Hartford winning streak with a 5-1 victory before a matinee crowd of 2,031 at the Colisee.
“Obviously, we had good chemistry,” said Louis, whose three assists matched his season total from last winter. “When you play with guys like Lessio and Shinnimin, you just have to get them the puck and they’re going to do the rest.”
Both Lessio and Shinnimin scored twice for the Pirates, who remained in the Eastern Conference cellar, one point behind Adirondack and two behind Hartford. Sunday marked the third time in six days the Pirates played the Wolf Pack, a string that began in frustrating fashion last Tuesday when Hartford rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in Lewiston.
The Pirates built another 3-0 lead Sunday afternoon, but this time they held it.
Shinnimin scored the first period’s only goal when he tracked down the rebound of a Lessio shot, skated across the goal mouth and tucked it past netminder David LeNeveu.
“It was a hard-working goal,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “We got the puck to the net and he found the rebound and popped it home.”
The Wolf Pack had several good early chances, but Mark Visentin, who finished with 27 saves, turned them aside.
“He really stood his ground and kept us in there,” Lessio said.
Tobias Rieder tallied his 21st goal of the season early in the second period and 41 seconds later Shinnimin scored again, from the right side, with assists from Louis and Randy Jones.
Hartford finally got on the board with a power-play goal from Ryan Bourque, who tipped a shot from Oscar Linberg past Visentin. Lessio closed the door with a pair of third-period goals, giving him 20 for the season.
The first was the prettiest. Breaking out after a prolonged Hartford attack, Louis outraced a Hartford defenseman along the left boards and dropped a blind pass to Lessio, whose shot from the left circle found the back of the net for a 4-1 lead.
“That play was all him for sure,” Lessio said of Louis. “He beat the defender, made a beautiful drop pass to me and I was just lucky to put that one in.”
The Pirates return to action Friday night at home against Albany.
NOTES: With the NHL trade dealine Wednesday, Edwards said any move by Phoenix could affect the Pirates. The team wore red jerseys for cardiac awareness and players joined a public skate after the game. Proceeds from a 50/50 raffle went to the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute. The American Heart Association sold mystery pucks to benefit heart-related causes.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: