March 12, 2010

Pirates celebrate their return in style

PAUL BETIT

— By

Staff Writer

After playing their last eight games on the road, it was like starting over for the Portland Pirates on Saturday night.

The Pirates turned in a solid performance during a 4-2 victory against the Providence Bruins before a crowd of 5,069 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Portland snapped a three-game losing streak to pull to within a point of the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins.

''With the kind of the month we had, it was a huge win for us,'' Portland left wing Dylan Hunter said.

The Pirates were one player short, with 16 skaters dressed for the game. Because of injuries and call-ups, Portland is missing seven players from its opening-day roster.

But the Pirates played as though they were at full strength from the start.

''We're starting to buy into the game plan more,'' Hunter said. ''We had a good start (to the season) and kind of got away from it for a little bit. Now we're back to playing the way we're supposed to be playing, and I think it shows.''

Portland took the lead for good when Hunter, who missed 12 games earlier this season because of a broken right foot, scored his first goal.

''The season definitely didn't start the way I wanted it to, to get hurt like that, and it's taken me a while to get back into the swing of things,'' he said. ''But I'm playing with some good guys and they've been helping me along and I finally broke the goose egg tonight, so it feels good.''

Hunter snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring on a rebound 7:35 into the second period.

Providence took a 1-0 lead at 8:25 of the first when defenseman Johnny Boychuk got his seventh goal of the season on shot from the middle of the right circle during the Bruins' second power play of the game.

The Pirates tied the game at 17:55 on Derek Whitmore's fourth goal, set up by Marek Zagrapan's long rush through the defense. He carried the puck all the way to the right post before leaving it out front for Whitmore's tap-in.

''(Providence) was changing up and I wanted to take advantage of that,'' Zagrapan said. ''It worked out good. I caught the defenseman standing still at the blue line.''

After Hunter broke the tie, Mathieu Darche made it 3-1 with 42 seconds left in the second when he knocked in the rebound of Hunter's shot from the right circle for his 10th goal.

The Pirates increased the lead to 4-1 with less than six minutes to play. Colin Fretter put defenseman Paul Baier's pass from the top of the right circle inside the left post for his 10th goal.

Peter Schaefer got the Bruins' final goal with less than five minutes left with a rising shot from the left circle.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

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