Sunday, December 8, 2013
By MIKE SCANDURA Special to the Press Herald
WORCESTER, Mass. - The DCU Center scoreboard showed the Portland Pirates beat the Worcester Sharks 3-2 in a shootout Friday night.
The stat sheet showed Maxime Legault and Derek Whitmore scored Portland's goals in regulation and Paul Byron, Corey Tropp and Mark Parrish scored in the shootout.
What neither showed was that goalie Jhonas Enroth really earned two points for Portland.
Enroth made 44 saves in regulation and overtime and then stopped three of four shots in the shootout.
Because Manchester edged Bridgeport 4-3 Friday night, the Pirates remained four points behind the Monarchs in the race for the AHL Atlantic Division title, although Portland has four games in hand.
"We gave up a lot of bad chances and when you have a 2-0 lead, you can't let them come back and get back in the game," Portland's Mark Mancari said. "I thought Jhonas carried us. I think we've been saying that a lot about him lately."
So has Coach Kevin Dineen.
"We give Jhonas credit," Dineen said. "He certainly deserves a win. He's really gobbled a few losses this year that he did not deserve, so it's nice to see him get a well-deserved win."
Enroth was superb from the second period through overtime when Worcester outshot Portland, 34-14.
Were it not for a power-play goal in the final minute, Portland would have won in regulation.
But Portland's Brian Rolof was called for hooking at 17:17 of the third with Portland leading, 2-1.
Worcester Coach Roy Sommer pulled goalie Tyson Sexsmith for a six-on-four advantage, and Benn Ferriero deflected in a slap shot by Sean Sullivan with 55 seconds left.
Enroth made pad saves on Ferriero, Jon Cheechoo and Dan DaSilva in the shootout and was beaten only by Michael Swift.
While Enroth came up big, Portland's penalty kill contributed early in the first period.
Jacob Lagace was in the box serving a five-minute major for boarding, yet Portland allowed only two shots.
"When you go out there and kill (a penalty) like that, you can get a lot of energy out of that," Dineen said.
Legault gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead at 12:13 of the first. Enroth, after making a save, passed to defenseman T.J. Brennan, who hit Legault streaking down the right wing. Legault beat Sexsmith with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle.
Legault also had a hand in Derek Whitmore's goal at 5:44 of the second. Whitmore and Legault broke over the blue line on a two-on-one. After Legault passed left, Whitmore beat Sexsmith high for a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks eventually tied it at 14:58 of the second when Ferriero sent a cross-ice pass to T.J. Trevelyan for a one-timer.
"Everybody is scratching and clawing every point you can get," Dineen said.
"We still have guys that are feeling their way into our lineup on the defensive side. But you know what? You're going to have to scratch and claw for every point you get. That's why those shootout points were so important."