PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards obviously had high hopes going into this season.
But what’s transpired almost has defied comprehension, because after Sunday’s 7-2 loss to the Providence Bruins, the Pirates have the worst record in the AHL.
“When you start the year you always have high hopes and you feel like you’re going to have a team that, hopefully, can be in a playoff position,” Edwards said. “You fight for that. It’s been a tough year. The thing you can always do is you can always have a good attitude, you can always work, and you can always compete.
“We didn’t do that near enough tonight, and we haven’t done it enough over the course of the year to be successful.”
It was the fourth straight loss for the Pirates, who have just 59 points with a 24-35-3-8 record.
Portland goalie Chris Rawlings (37 saves) might as well have been invisible considering the accuracy of Providence’s shots in the first period, which ended with the Bruins leading 3-0. The three goals came on Providence’s first seven shots.
Justin Florek ignited the explosion with a snap shot from the bottom of the left circle at 2:10.
Barely two minutes later, Rawlings blocked Craig Cunningham’s shot but Ryan Spooner jammed home the rebound.
Providence notched its third goal during a power play when Matt Fraser deflected a Cunningham shot past Rawlings at 9:49.
Portland dominated play in the middle period, but it wasn’t enough.
Lucas Lessio, who recorded a hat trick Saturday at Manchester, screened Niklas Svedberg (28 saves) and tipped in a Joel Hanley shot at 1:25.
Portland sliced its deficit to 3-2 during a power play when Brandon Yip flicked in a puck that had squirted into the slot after a Tobias Reider shot at 13:28.
But as well as Portland played during the period, it went for naught when Joe Morrow’s power-play wrist shot from just inside the blue line eluded Rawlings with 3.2 seconds remaining.
“The goal at the end (of the second) obviously was a deflating goal,” Edwards said. “But to play the way we did in the third is unacceptable. That was an embarrassment in the third period.
“We quit working. We quit playing together. It was very disappointing in the third period.”
Not only did Providence outshoot Portland 12-5 in the third, but the Bruins also outscored the Pirates 3-0.
Florek scored his second goal at 8:41 of the third when he pounced on a loose puck and slipped it past Rawlings. Seth Griffith turned the game into a blowout when he intercepted a pass in Portland’s zone and scored on a breakaway at 11:46.
“They know what’s on the line, but you wouldn’t know it by the way we played in the first and third periods,” Edwards said, referring to the fact that several Pirates are playing for jobs. “But it’s at the point now where we don’t have enough players playing well.
“To play like we did in the first and third is tough to take.”