February 25, 2010

Pirates knock off top team


— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates picked up two big points off the Manchester Monarchs Tuesday night, but had to win a shootout to do it.

''It was a grind of a game, and that is the way the games are going to get as we move into the later stages of the season,'' said Portland Coach Kevin Dineen, after the Pirates eked out a 3-2 win before a crowd of 2,620 at the Cumberland County Civic Center. ''We're playing good hockey teams, and a lot of teams that are above us (in the standings) so it doesn't get any easier.''

It was the third win in four games for the Pirates, who moved into fifth place in the Atlantic Division. Manchester remains first, a spot it has occupied since the first week of the season.

''The guys battled hard,'' said Portland captain Brad Larsen, who scored the Pirates' first goal late in the second period. ''(Manchester) is a good team. Their goalie plays real well. They play good systems. Everything you get you have to work for.''

Manchester goalie Jonathan Bernier made 36 saves, including six during the 5-minute overtime. But defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and right wing Mark Mancari scored during the shootout. Bernier, a former Lewiston Maineiac who has started 36 of 48 games, is considered one of the AHL's top goalies.

During the shootout, Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth, who made 26 saves, stopped 4 of 5 shooters.

''Everyone talks about Bernier, but I put (Enroth) at the same level,'' Larsen said. ''He's a great goalie. He plays big for us in shootouts. He works extremely hard for us in games, and he never gives up on shots.''

The Monarchs opened the scoring in the final minute of the first period. Moments after the Pirates killed off a penalty, left wing Richard Clune poked a rebound inside the right post.

Portland took a short-lived lead in the second period.

At 14:10, Larsen made it 1-1 by converting Mancari's centering pass from near the left post on a quick shot from between the hash marks.

At 16:26, rookie Travis Turnbull snapped the tie by poking a rebound into the left side after Bernier stopped defenseman Mike Kostka's screened shot from the right circle. It came on the Pirates' fifth power play of the game.

A little more than a minute later, as Manchester enjoyed a two-man advantage, rookie Corey Elkins slid his team-high 16th goal into the left side to tie the score.

The Pirates held a 11-6 edge in shots in the opening period, but managed just two shots during eight minutes on the power play.

''The power play wasn't a problem,'' Dineen said. ''I thought we had some great looks out there. ... I thought for the most part we accomplished a lot of things.''

NOTES: Portland's Nathan Gerbe missed his third straight game with a groin injury.

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


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