Thursday, December 12, 2013
PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates completed an important sweep of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night.
Jhonas Enroth stopped 22 shots and made first-period goals by Derek Whitmore and Jeff Cowan stand up as the Pirates edged the Sound Tigers 2-1 before a crowd of 6,200 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Portland moved into fourth place in the eight-team Atlantic Division, one point ahead of Hartford and five ahead of Bridgeport.
The Pirates are 3-3 against Bridgeport.
''(Bridgeport was) the only team in our division we were under .500 against, so it was nice to come back and win these two games this weekend and pull that stat back to even,'' Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.
''It's a competitive series. I like the way we played tonight. They pushed very hard in the third period and created a lot of chances. We were a little bit on our heels, but overall it was a solid weekend for us.''
It was the third consecutive win for the Pirates.
''You have ups and downs in a season,'' Cowan said. ''Right now, we're trying to stay positive and trying to keep it up. Everyone seems to be on the same page, and it's really exciting when a team is playing like this.''
Enroth, making his 18th start in 20 games, allowed only a third-period goal by Sean Bentivoglio.
''(Enroth's) game is very strong right now, and we like the way his thoughts are,'' Dineen said. ''He deserves the net. He's done a good job for us.''
Whitmore converted a nifty pass from Felix Schutz into his eighth goal of the season 1:21 into the game. Schutz sent a pass from behind the right post through the crease to Whitmore, who swept the puck inside the far post.
With 1:04 left in the period, Cowan scored a power-play goal. He stuck the puck inside the left post after getting his stick on the rebound of Kyle Wanvig's shot off the rear boards.
''It went off the backboard and I saw the goalie was kind of out (of position),'' Cowan said. ''I knew he was going to have a tough time getting back, so I kind of threw it off his pads and it worked.''
Strong penalty killing by the Pirates kept Bridgeport off the scoreboard in the first period. Portland allowed just one shot while playing two men short for 1:16.
Bentivoglio spoiled Enroth's bid for his fourth shutout of the season when he tipped in Trevor Smith's shot from the top of the slot with 7:05 remaining.
Because of injuries to forwards Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick and defensemen Dennis Persson and Drew Schiestel, Portland played with 17 skaters, one fewer than permitted, for the second consecutive game.
''It was a short lineup, but you've got to like our response,'' Dineen said. ''We had a lot of guys playing out of position a little bit. It was a well-played overall effort.''
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: