Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Special to the Press Herald
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Portland appeared to be at a disadvantage in Friday's game against the Providence Bruins.
Since forwards Nathan Gerbe, Cody McCormick and Paul Byron and defensemen Dennis Perrson and Drew Schiestel didn't make the trip because of injuries, the Pirates were minus players who had accounted for 27 goals and 49 assists.
Tyler Ennis scored one goal and assisted on another and Jhonas Enroth made 38 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as Portland blanked Providence, 3-0.
As a result, the Pirates:
nGave Coach Kevin Dineen the puck as a memento of his 200th AHL career victory.
(Dineen's first victory also came against Providence).
nHave won five in a row, 7 of 8 and are 8-2-1-0 in their last 11 games.
nHave outscored the opposition 41-17 during this 11-game stretch.
Given how well the Pirates are playing while short-handed is an indication this streak isn't the result of pure luck.
''We have a lot of guys playing some really solid hockey and they're playing in a lot of different areas,'' Dineen said. ''Players are getting moved around up front. We're playing a man short (Portland dressed only 17 skaters Friday) and we seem to have good chemistry because of it.
''I'm happy with the effort of pretty much all of our guys.''
Dineen is definitely happy with the play of Enroth, who's won seven of his last eight starts.
''I think the tone of his game right now is extreme confidence,'' Dineen said. ''He's not making a ton of difficult saves. They don't look difficult because of his positioning.
''He's doing a lot of good things well and it's leading to our wins.''
Providence goalie Dany Sabourin was hot, too, having allowed only one goal in his last three starts. But Portland tripled that number before the end of the second period.
Felix Schutz gave Portland a 1-0 lead when he blasted home a slap shot from the top of the left circle at 8:45 of the first.
In the second, Ennis went to work. He buried the rebound of a Mark Mancari shot at 11:16 for his 16th goal. And when Portland went on a power play, Ennis slid a cross-crease pass to Derek Whitmore, who scored on a one-timer at 16:30.
Dineen was the last one in the locker room to learn about his 200th victory.
''I never knew that was on the horizon,'' he said. ''There was a record to be broken last year. I think it was the most wins for the Pirates and guys kept bringing it up. That's the kiss of death.
''I had no idea (about win No. 200) until they gave me the puck after the game.''