Friday, March 7, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Rob Klinkhammer tends to get his goals in bunches.
That worked out well on Sunday when the left wing scored twice to lift the Portland Pirates to a 4-0 win over the Manchester Monarchs at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
"I've kind of been like that my whole life, a streaky player," Klinkhammer said. "I wish I could get them more consistently, but I'll take them when I can get them. If they come in bunches, I'll take it."
The good thing about these goals was that they helped nail down a win that was backstopped by tag-team goalies Chad Johnson, the starter, and rookie Mark Visentin, who relieved him after the first period.
Klinkhammer had three goals and a couple assists in an 8-7 overtime loss against St. John's on Oct. 23 and two goals in a 4-2 loss at Worcester on Nov. 14.
"It's nice to be on the positive side of it," Klinkhammer said.
He now has seven goals and 12 assists for a team-leading 19 points in 21 games.
Johnson made several nice stops among his 11 first period saves, but did not come out for the second period.
"He tweaked a lower body injury and we didn't want to try and play him through it," said Portland Coach Ray Edwards.
On came Visentin, who stopped all 13 shots he saw in the second period and eight more in the third.
"The guys did a heck of a job and battled hard for (Visentin) when he came in," Edwards said. "That's a tough situation. Our goaltending was a big reason why we were able to get two points tonight."
The win evened up the season series between the teams at two games apiece and was Portland's second straight Sunday afternoon victory in Manchester. They Pirates triumphed here, 3-2 in overtime, last week.
After a scoreless first period, Klinkhammer took a long pass from defenseman Brandon Gormley, got by Manchester's Jake Muzzin, broke in on goalie Martin Jones and beat him high to the stick side at 10:07 of the second period. Visentin also assisted.
"That one goal was beautiful," Edwards said. "I thought he was our best player tonight. He was all over the puck and hard on the puck. His back pressure was excellent."
Klinkhammer and the Pirates pressured Jones and the Monarchs on the power play and he knocked in the puck from a scrum in front of the net at 8:07 of the third period for a 2-0 lead. It was Portland's only goal in seven power plays. Manchester was 0 for 5 on the power play.
Ethan Werek and Darian Dziurzynski added empty net goals late in the third period as the Pirates wrapped up a four-point weekend that could have been even better.
Portland beat Worcester 4-3 at home on Friday night, and was tied with Providence, 2-2, with less than four minutes to go again at home on Saturday night. But the Bruins scored and then tacked on a couple empty netters for a 5-2 win.
"We kind of let that one get away," Klinkhammer said. "We've got to learn from that right away here. I think we've done that a couple of times this year and we've got to turn those games around."