February 25, 2010

Third time's hardly the charm

JOHN NASH

— By

Special to the Press Herald

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The Bridgeport Sound Tigers seem to have the Portland Pirates' number this season.

The Sound Tigers got unassisted goals from Greg Mauldin and Mark Katic, and goaltender Nathan Lawson stopped all 26 shots he faced as Bridgeport defeated the Pirates 2-0 Tuesday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

It was Bridgeport's third victory over the Pirates in three games this season. The loss also snapped Portland's nine-game road point streak.

''It felt like we had some good chances,'' said Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen. ''Obviously, the difference was our special teams weren't firing very well. When you give up a short-handed goal and you don't capitalize on your power plays, which we had plenty of chances on, that's the game right there.''

In the first period, the Pirates were limited to four shots, none of which came during their six minutes of power-play opportunities. All told, the Pirates were 0 for 6 on the power play.

The Sound Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second period when defenseman Mark Katic carried the puck from inside his blue line into the Portland defensive zone. He cut toward the middle, curling around toward the right side of the goal, where he lifted in a backhander 2:55 into the period.

Portland's best two scoring opportunities of the first two periods came in the final seven minutes of the second.

Matt Caruana and Mark Mancari had a two-on-one short-handed opportunity with 6:40 to play, but as Caruana slid a pass to Mancari at the far post, Lawson slid across the crease to make the save.

''It was a great pass, a great shot and a great save by the goaltender,'' said Dineen. ''It was three great plays in a key situation.''

Three minutes later, Portland's Derek Whitmore was just outside the crease when he took a pass from behind the net and put it on goal, but Lawson again made the save.

''Our goalie has been doing something right against them,'' said Bridgeport Coach Jack Capuano, a former University of Maine player. ''I think they probably outchanced (us) tonight, but they hit some posts and they had more legs than we had for whatever reason. But our goalie stood tall.''

Portland had a third-period power-play opportunity disappear after just 30 seconds when Brad Larsen got hit with a slashing penalty against Bridgeport's captain Pete Wotton.

Four minutes later, the Pirates went on the power play again, but this time Mauldin picked up a loose puck near center ice, skated to the left of Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth (14 saves) and slid a shot just inside the far post for a 2-0 lead with 8:24 to play.

''I'm not sure what happened there, but Mauldin made a good play,'' said Dineen. ''The shot wasn't hard, but it was extremely well-placed. That just put us in a tough hole to come from behind.''

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