WORCESTER, Mass. — Even though their season is only seven games old, the Portland Pirates have established a trend.
Portland is having trouble scoring goals, and that leaves little margin for error.
“That’s where we’re at right now,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said Sunday after Portland grabbed an early lead but gave up four goals in the third period to Worcester and lost 4-1. “Hopefully we can get past that. But right now our margin for error is not much. We’ve been getting opportunities to score and we haven’t been able to do it.”
Portland’s inability to execute is reflected in the fact it has scored the fewest goals (12) in the Eastern Conference.
What made this game especially frustrating was that Portland (2-5) scored first for only the second time this season. Evan Oberg unloaded a slap shot from just inside the blue line that clanged in off the crossbar and dropped behind Worcester (4-1-1) goalie Troy Grosenick (28 saves) at 4:16 of the first period.
Keeping frustration from boiling over will be a challenge for the Pirates.
“You have to put what’s in the past behind you and think about what’s coming up ahead and focus on that,” Pirates center Tyler Gaudet said. “If you dwell on the past then you’re going to keep being frustrated.
“I know the team is annoyed with it. But you’ve got to look ahead and learn from these games.”
If there was a turning point in the game it was at the tail end of the second and the early moments of the third.
Portland went on a power play at 18:57 of the second but managed only one shot.
Then, 2:41 into the third, Freddie Hamilton scored his first of three straight goals when he beat Pirates goalie Mike McKenna (31 saves) with a wrist shot from the right circle.
“Through two periods we felt like we had enough chances to be up more than one goal,” Edwards said. “The part of the game that was disappointing for me was we had the power play to start the third period, we just went through the motions and gave them all the momentum.
“That’s how they started with momentum in the third. That was the start of their comeback, getting that kill. They kept the puck in our zone a little bit and got lots of momentum.”
Portland is just 1 for 14 on the power play in its last three games.
“That’s not good enough,” Edwards said. “We’ve identified players to play the power play and we’re not getting the job done.”
Hamilton gave Worcester the lead at 6:48 when he beat McKenna with a one-timer on the power play. He completed his hat trick at 7:53 when he stuffed home a rebound.
Evan Trupp slid the puck into an empty net at 18:33.
“It would have been helpful to start off with the momentum, but they had the momentum with that big penalty kill at the beginning (of the third),” Gaudet said. “We need to be better in all areas of the game.”