February 19, 2012

AHL's worst team handles Pirates, 6-2

Portland falls into an early three-goal hole, losing to a goalie who has just two wins since Dec. 4.

By TOM ROBINSON Special to the Telegram

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards arrived at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday night believing he would not witness another effort like the one he saw the night before, when the Binghamton Senators lost by five goals at home.

Edwards was wrong.

There was a subpar effort produced in Binghamton for a second straight night, only it came from his team.

"I didn't think our compete level was good to start," Edwards said after the Pirates allowed three first-period goals in a 6-2 loss to the AHL's worst team.

Binghamton seemed on its way to being removed from the Eastern Conference playoff race after its fifth straight loss Friday night, 6-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Pirates entered Saturday a point out of a playoff spot, but missed an opportunity to make a move in a tight race.

"We didn't compete at all like a team that is desperate for a playoff spot," Edwards said. "It's frustrating because the desperation and urgency just wasn't there.

"We're not going to make it very easy on ourselves if we have that sort of mind-set and attitude."

With some help from the Pirates, the Senators and goalie Robin Lehner enjoyed a brief flashback.

Lehner stopped 28 straight shots at one point, finishing with 36 saves.

Binghamton and Lehner have both struggled this season, as a young Senators lineup has had trouble as the defending Calder Cup champions.

Lehner went 14-4 and posted three shutouts as the Most Valuable Player during the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs. He is just 8-16 in a frustrating season that includes a three-game suspension for an altercation with an official.

Lehner posted just his second win since Dec. 4.

"We had some chances," Edwards said. "He definitely made some saves when it was 3-1, 4-1, where if we get one, maybe we get some life."

That never happened.

Former Pirate Mark Parrish scored twice for the Senators. Another former Pirate, Mike Hoffman, had three assists.

Corey Locke opened the scoring for Binghamton midway through the first period.

Patrick O'Sullivan answered for the Pirates 19 seconds later.

Parrish scored his first goal off a long rebound at 12:49. The Pirates nearly responded within a minute again, but Marc-Antione Pouliot's shot hit the post.

Binghamton soon took over, adding three more goals to the lead.

Defensemen Eric Gryba, late in the first period, and Dan Henningson, each scored from near the blue line. Henningson's goal knocked out Pirates goalie Marc Cheverie.

In between, Parrish scored his second goal when Cheverie got a piece of his backhand attempt on a breakaway, but the puck still managed to sneak in under the crossbar.

Lehner got his pads on a short-handed breakaway by Pirates wing Evan Bloodoff with 4:30 left, but again the puck found its way in.

The Pirates were within three goals for just 40 seconds before Mike Bartlett scored on a Binghamton power play.


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