March 14, 2013

Pirates back on even keel

Equal-strength play has been Portland's weakness of late, but Ray Edwards notes improvement.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - For a change, nearly everything seemed to be working for the Pirates Wednesday night.

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click image to enlarge

Jordan Szwarz doesn’t miss an open net as he gives the Pirates a 1-0 lead Wednesday against the Adirondack Phantoms in Portland.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

20130313_Pirates
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Portland’s Andy Miele weaves his way between Adirondack defenders Eric Wellwood, 22, and Erik Gustafsson, 36, during Wednesday’s game at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

David Rundblad, Alexandre Bolduc and Andy Miele each scored a goal and had an assist as Portland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win against the Adirondack Phantoms before 2,849 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Jordan Szwarz, Chris Brown and Brett Hextall also scored for the Pirates who moved within two points of idle Providence, the Atlantic Division leader.

"Right now, two points is important for us, just to get us feeling better and get us back on track," Portland Coach Ray Edwards said.

Portland's special teams scored three goals, and the Pirates held a 3-1 edge in even-strength goals.

"The even-strength part of it for me is the key," Edwards said. "That's the area of the game now that has to get better. If you look at our last 10 games, our power play was at 19.5 percent and our (penalty kill) was 85 percent. Even strength we were outscored 29-22. That's the area we've got to get better, and that's a commitment to defense and to puck management."

The Pirates held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

A hustling Szwarz opened the scoring seven minutes into the game by putting in a rebound for the Pirates' ninth short-handed goal of the season. After stealing the puck in his own end, Szwarz carried it into the left circle before dropping a pass into the slot to Rundblad. Goalie Scott Monrue stopped Rundblad's shot, but Szwarz was there to bank the rebound for his ninth goal.

Less than five minutes later, Brown upped Portland's lead by poking home a rebound of defenseman Mathieu Brodeur's shot for his team-high 23rd goal while the Pirates had a man-advantage.

With less than three minutes left in the first period, former UMaine forward Matt Mangene made it 2-1 by converting Mitch Wahl's centering pass for the fourth goal of his rookie season.

With four minutes left in the second period, Rundblad, who returned last Saturday after spending nearly a month in the NHL with the parent Phoenix Coyotes, put in a rising shot from center point for a power-play goal to make it 3-1. It was eighth goal of the season.

The game appeared to turn into a rout when Bolduc and Miele scored less than a minute apart to make it 5-1 with less than 13 minutes left, but the Pirates had to overcome some adversity to pull out their first win in eight days.

With less than eight minutes left, rookie forward Brendan Shinnimin received a five-minute major for boarding in front of the Adirondack bench. Wahl and Jason Akeson scored during the extended power play.

"You have to make it interesting, I guess," Edwards said.

With less than a minute left, Hextall stuck in his seventh goal to complete the scoring.

Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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