January 7, 2012

Pirates give up too much, get too little

Portland is stung by five-on-three power plays, and also misses chances in a 4-1 loss at Providence.

By MIKE SCANDURA Special to The Press Herald

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Given the way they played in the first two periods Friday night against the Providence Bruins, the Portland Pirates needed every break they could catch in the third.


WHO: Bridgeport Sound Tigers (14-17-3-1), 4th in AHL’s Northeast Division) at Portland Pirates (16-13-2-3), 4th in Atlantic Division)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Cumberland County Civic Center

TELEVISION: Time Warner Channels 9 or 21


SOUND TIGERS NOTES: The Sound Tigers snapped a seven-game road losing streak Wednesday night with a 4-0 win at Manchester, but their winning percentage of .368 on the road remains the AHL’s worst. Goalie Kevin Poulin, who has made eight consecutive starts, stopped a total of 45 shots while posting shutouts in his last two games. Center Casey Cizikas has a four-game points streak, and right wing Tony Romano has scored three goals in his last four games. Bridgeport is the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders.

PIRATES NOTES: The Pirates, who have earned points in 10 of their last 12 home games, are 2-0 against the Sound Tigers this season. On Dec. 10, right wing Brett MacLean began his string of four two-goal games during a 4-2 win against Bridgeport. Going into Friday night’s game against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Brock Trotter had a five-game points streak, and Brett Hextall and Ryan Duncan had points in four of their last five games.

– Paul Betit

Two breaks in particular didn't go Portland's way and contributed to a 4-1 Providence victory.

Providence led 3-1 when Michael Stone slid the puck into the net at 5:13 of the third period -- a second after the cage was knocked off its pins, which negated the goal.

Then, 21/2 minutes later, Matt Watkins clanged a shot off the crossbar.

But the last thing Portland Coach Ray Edwards was looking for was sympathy.

"We didn't earn the breaks," Edwards said. "I thought they were a lot harder than us tonight. Give them a lot of credit. They came out and were a hard group.

"I thought for the first 10 minutes we were pretty good and then we got into penalty trouble. You can't give teams two five-on-threes and they scored on both of them. You can say what you want about the game, but when you give teams five-on-threes you're going to be in trouble. We're chasing the game because of our penalties."

Providence scored its first five-on-three power-play goal at 17:22 of the opening period when Josh Hennessy beat Curtis McElhinney (33 saves).

The Bruins upped their lead to 2-0 during another two-man advantage when Carter Camper deflected in a shot by Hennessy at 7:43 of the second.

Providence scored an even-strength goal at 15:36 of the second on a slap shot by Kyle MacKinnon from the top of the right circle.

The Bruins began play ranked 29th out of 30 teams on the power play with a paltry 12.3 percent conversion rate.

"When you have five-on-threes, they have enough good players to make things happen," Edwards said. "You just can't give up five-on-threes, let alone two of them."

Portland pulled within 3-1 when Brett MacLean redirected a Tyler Eckford shot during a power play at 1:37 of the third.

"We got the goal early in the third, which is what we needed on the power play, and then we had (Watkins' shot off the crossbar)," Edwards said.

During a second-period Portland power play, when the Pirates trailed 2-0, the Bruins generated more chances while short-handed.

"I didn't think our power play was very effective," Edwards said while reading a stat sheet that showed Portland only was 1 of 6 with a man advantage. "We have a unit that can be pretty potent if they work and compete. But I didn't think we were very good on the power play.

"We got the one goal, which was a timely goal when we needed it. We had a power play after that and we didn't get the puck to the zone."

Providence closed it when Jordan Caron slid the puck into an empty net with 14 seconds left.


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