Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By Bob Birge
Special to the Press Herald
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Portland Coach Ray Edwards thought his team came out flat Saturday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but it was understandable since the Pirates were playing their fifth game in seven days.
Well, however flat his teammates might have been, backup goaltender Louis Domingue stood tall, holding off Bridgeport’s early blitz and stopping 31 shots for his first career AHL shutout, 2-0.
Andy Miele and Brett Hextall scored for the Pirates, who improved to 7-1 against the Sound Tigers over the last two seasons.
“I thought the key was the first 10 minutes of the game,” Edwards said. “They came out with a lot of energy early. We’ve been on this road trip that’s been crazy and they came at us, so for Louis to stick in there early and get us through that little barrage was key for us.”
It took a while for Portland to get its legs, going the first seven minutes without a shot on net.
But they had arrived at their hotel in the wee hours after Friday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to Norfolk in which the Pirates surrendered the tying goal with 24 seconds left in regulation.
“We’ve been having some tough travel,” said Domingue, who improved 6-1-0-1.
“Getting into Bridgeport at 3:30 in the morning and not being able to skate this morning, we had to expect a tougher start, but we found a way to take the lead after the first. That made a huge difference.”
After killing off two of Bridgeport’s five power plays, Portland got on the board 11:29 into the first period.
Sound Tigers goaltender Kenny Reiter (23 saves) stopped Jordan Szwarz’s shot from the slot but the rebound caromed into the right faceoff circle to Miele, who scored high to the glove side for his team-high 16th.
Hextall increased the lead 2:19 into the second, following up a rebound of Corey Trivino’s slapper from the left circle that Reiter couldn’t handle in the crease. The assist gave Trivino his first career point in the AHL.
Portland finished the game down two players as forward Keven Veilleux and top defense man Chris Summers suffered upper-body injuries.
Edwards said neither will dress Sunday when the Pirates play at Worcester (3 p.m.) to complete their weekend odyssey of three games in three cities.
“Once we got that second goal, we laid back a little bit because we lost a defenseman,” Edwards said. “We took off the pinch and played a little more conservatively. We were playing with a short bench.”
Bridgeport outshot Portland 9-5 in the third period but Domingue put the finishing touches on the Pirates’ first shutout of the season.
“I thought we gave a great effort in the third,” Domingue said. “It was one of the best third periods I’ve seen our team play this season.”