March 12, 2010

Comeback wasted in shootout loss

PAUL BETIT

— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Just when things were looking up for the Portland Pirates, they took a step sideways Saturday night.

The Pirates did take sole possession of second place in the AHL's Atlantic Division, but the Providence Bruins, the division leader, managed to eke out a 6-5 win in a shootout at the Cumberland County Civic Center to move three points ahead of them.

''We're on a bit of a roller coaster emotionally,'' Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''We play some really good streaks of hockey followed by stretches of mediocrity. We're trying to hold ourselves accountable to a higher level that we can be a better team than we've shown lately.''

Saturday night, the Pirates took a near-sellout crowd of 6,514 on quite a ride. After falling behind by two goals twice, they scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime.

With 4:39 left, rookie Tim Kennedy began the rally when he put in a shot from the right circle for his ninth goal. It was Portland's third power-play goal of the night, the most since it scored four power-play goals Dec. 6 against Lowell.

With 1:10 left, defenseman Matt MacDonald tied the score by putting in a shot from the top of the left circle for his first AHL goal.

In the shootout, the Bruins got goals from Mikki Lehtonen and Wacey Rabbitt to pull out the win. Mark Mancari scored for the Pirates.

Providence held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

The Pirates opened the scoring 2:39 into the game when Mancari got control of a rebound and scored his team-high 21st goal of the season on a backhander from the bottom of the left circle 15 seconds into the first power play of the game.

Less than two minutes later, Brad Marchand rifled a rebound into the left side of the net for his 12th goal during a scrum in front of Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth to tie the score.

At 8:35, Providence defenseman Matt Lashoff broke the tie with his fifth goal on a shot from the slot. As he fell back into the goal, Enroth got his glove on the puck, but he couldn't hang on to it.

Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani tied the score 39 seconds into the second period when his shot from the top of the slot rang off the left post for his fifth goal while both teams were short-handed.

Lehtonen scored two goals during the final six minutes of the second period to propel the Bruins into a 4-2 lead.

At 14:23, he lifted a shot from the left circle past Enroth for a power-play goal. With one second left in the period, he put the puck inside the right post after Marchand took the puck away from a defender in the left corner and sent a long pass toward the far post.

Mathieu Darche narrowed the gap during a power play 4:25 into the third period when he got his stick on a rebound near the left post and put the puck in off goalie Kevin Nastiuk's skate for his 16th goal.

But Lehtonen, a rookie from Finland, scored his team-high 19th goal 13 minutes into the final period on a shot from the right circle to record his first hat trick as a professional.

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