March 13, 2010

Pirates give former goalie trouble in his return

PAUL BETIT

— By

Staff Writer

Mathieu Darche spoiled goalie J.S. Aubin's return to the Cumberland County Civic Center Saturday night.

Darche, a veteran of nine professional seasons, had two goals less than three minutes apart early in the third period to help the Portland Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms before a crowd of 4,584.

Aubin, who has played in 218 games over five seasons in the NHL, posted a 9-3 record last spring for the Pirates in their run to the Eastern Conference finals.

Saturday night, his former team cooled off one of the league's hottest teams by scoring three third-period goals.

''There have been a few times we've started the third period tied, and every time we've pulled away,'' Darche said. ''Not squeaking one goal here, we take over the third. We usually score two or three (goals) in the third. We take over the games, which is great to see from this team.''

Portland snapped the Phantoms' six-game winning streak while extending its own to five games. The Pirates have earned at least one point in eight consecutive games to remain in first place in the Atlantic Division.

''We're playing hard, and I was much happier with our 60 minutes tonight than I was with the overall effort (Friday night),'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said, referring to the Pirates' 2-1 shootout win against Springfield.

''We were playing against an extremely hot team, but they were a little depleted and we tried to establish a lot of pressure and keep it on them.''

Left wing Josh Gratton was called up by the Philadelphia Flyers before the game, so the Phantoms had only 17 skaters.

Darche snapped a 2-2 tie 2:43 into the third period when he finished off a two-on-one break with Mark Mancari, sending his feed from across the slot into the left side of the goal.

At 5:12, Darche scored his third goal of the season.

Jonathan Matsumoto scored a power-play goal with 2:21 left to pull the Phantoms within 4-3.

With 25 seconds left, Mancari, who had three assists, scored an empty-net goal.

''Our big players keep making big plays for us, and it's been a real difference maker at this point,'' Dineen said.

The teams traded power-play goals during the first period.

At 5:16, Tim Kennedy scored when his shot from the top of the slot went in off Aubin's blocker.

The Phantoms tied the score at 8:14 when Claude Giroux sent a rebound into the left side.

The score was tied 2-2 at the end of the second.

Aaron Slattengren put the Pirates back into the lead at 7:14 when he sent a backhander from the left side in off Aubin's pads.

Less than three minutes later, Jared Ross tied the score with a short-handed goal.

NOTES: Forward Matt Ellis cleared waivers and was assigned to Portland, but didn't arrive in time to play.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

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