February 25, 2010

Ennis sparks Pirates past Sound Tigers

PAUL BETIT

— By

Kayla Pedersen, JJ Hones, Jeanette Pohlen
click image to enlarge

Kayla Pedersen, JJ Hones, Jeanette Pohlen

AP

click image to enlarge

Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Saturday, December 19, 2009....Pirates vs. Bridgeport AHL hockey game. Pirate right wing Mark Mancari controls the puck despite a diving effort from Bridgeport's #71, Mark Katic and pressure from #24, Brett Westgarth.

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates will head into their Christmas break with lots of momentum after a win Saturday night against one of their biggest nemeses, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Tyler Ennis slammed a rebound into the right side of the goal with 3:07 left to lift the Pirates to a 4-3 victory before a crowd of 5,190 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Portland, which lost its previous three meetings against the Sound Tigers, came from behind after blowing a 2-0 lead.

''It was pretty dramatic,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''I would have liked to see it unfold differently, but we played a very solid last 10 or 15 minutes.

The Pirates, who have earned points in 16 of their last 18 games, climbed into a three-way tie for second place with Bridgeport and Lowell in the AHL's eight-team Atlantic Division.

''You could call it a character win,'' said Portland captain Brad Larsen, who popped in his third goal of the season nine minutes into the third period to forge a 3-3 tie.

''But when you get a lead, you want to hang on to it.''

For the second consecutive game, the Pirates scored in the opening minute. Ennis, who has 11 goals and leads AHL rookies in scoring, poked the puck into the left side of the net 35 seconds into the game after Mark Mancari passed the puck across the slot during a two-on-one break.

While skating with a two-man advantage, the Pirates moved into a 2-0 lead 12:40 into the second period when Marc-Andre Gragnani, who has missed 14 games because of injury, scored his third goal of the season on a shot from the left circle. It was Portland's first power-play goal in four games.

With less than five minutes left in the period, defenseman Mark Katic cut the lead to 2-1 when he put in a shot from above the left hash mark for his third goal.

The Sound Tigers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped, took a 3-2 lead in the first four minutes of the third period as defenseman Mark Wotton and left wing Sean Bentivoglio scored in a span of just over a minute.

J.P. Lamoureux, making his first start in more than three weeks, stopped 18 shots to record the win. Jhonas Enroth had played the previous six games.

''I felt J.P. had played some really good hockey for us,'' Dineen said. ''Jhonas has struggled against Bridgeport, and I want him to play more consistent from game to game, team to team.''

Early on, the Pirates did a masterful job of keeping the puck away from Lamoureux. The Sound Tigers had just three shots in the first period, with only one coming when the teams were at even strength.

NOTES: With veteran forward Jeff Cowan out of the lineup after suffering a broken bone in one of his hands during a fight Friday night with Springfield's Alex Plante, Gragnani moved up to play left wing. Dennis Persson, another defenseman, played up front for the fifth consecutive game.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

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