February 25, 2010

Pirates' road struggles continue against Bruins

MIKE SCANDURA

— By

Special to the Press Herald

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — First, the good news.

After Sunday's trip to play Providence, the Portland Pirates are down to 35 games left on the road this season.

Now, the bad news.

The Pirates are still looking for their first victory after five road games.

After Portland's Cody McCormick scored the first goal, the Bruins reeled off six in a row on the way to a 7-2 win.

Not only are the Pirates 0-5 on the road, they've also been outscored 25-6. McCormick's goal, which came three minutes into the game, ended a road scoreless streak that reached 141 minutes, 19 seconds.

''Character shows up on the road and you have to show what you can do as a road team to have team success.'' Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. ''Obviously, not winning on the road is an issue for us right now. We've turned it into a stat we need to break.

''We start the season with 10 of our first 12 games on the road, so we have to take care of that.''

The next question is: When does playing on the road become a mental block?

''There's a confidence factor,'' Dineen said. ''When you get on the road and you want to try to break that (losing streak) somehow, scoring the first goal is a good sign. The trick is to follow that up.

''When you play three games in a row, you need solid momentum. Unfortunately, we weren't able to sustain that tonight.''

After Providence goalie Dany Sabourin blocked Phil Gogulla's shot, Gogulla fed the rebound to McCormick, who shoveled the puck home for a 1-0 lead.

But less than two minutes later, Vladimir Sobotka, who finished with two goals and two assists, beat Jhonas Enroth on a one-timer.

Providence then scored the first two of its four power-play goals for a 3-1 lead after the first period.

Brad Marchand buried the rebound of a shot by Andy Wozniewski at 7:40, and Wozniewski snapped in a shot from the left circle at 14:08.

The Bruins, who lead the AHL in power-play efficiency, converted 4 of 10 power-play opportunities.

Portland was 1 for 4 with the man advantage. The power-play goal came at 9:52 of the third, by Tyler Ennis, and was the Pirates' first road power-play goal after 26 unsuccessful chances.

''There are a number of issues and there are a number of stats we can reach out to with our team,'' Dineen said. ''At the end of the day, our record is 2-5 and that's a problem for us right now.

''We have to address a lot of things. Our special teams aren't good enough to win hockey games.

''The easiest thing to do now is to (berate yourself) and talk about all the negatives you have. There are plenty out there that we need to work on, and we need to address those things.''

NOTES: Nathan Gerbe, the Pirates' leading scorer was an injury scratch. ''He's a little sore right now he got injured (Saturday night against Manchester),'' Dineen said.

Enroth allowed five goals on 24 shots and was replaced by J.P. Lamoureux at the start of the third period.

Frustration boiled over midway through the third period. McCormick absorbed the brunt of the punishment, as he was assessed minors for cross-checking and instigating, plus a fighting major and a game misconduct.

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