Friday, December 6, 2013
By Paul Betit email@example.com
MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Portland Pirates skated to their third win on the road in less than 48 hours Sunday.
FRIDAY: Pirates at Manchester Monarchs,7 p.m.
SATURDAY: Manchester Monarchs at Pirates,7 p.m.
Derek Whitmore scored two power-play goals to lead the Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs before 5,561 at the Verizon Center.
The victory propelled the Pirates into a tie with the Monarchs for first place in the AHL's Atlantic Division.
The three road wins followed a dismal two weeks during which the Pirates lost six of seven games.
"We simplified our game a little bit," Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said. "When you give up four goals in three games I think that is pretty good testament to our goaltending. Our penalty killing was excellent, and our power play chipped in when we needed it."
Portland won 5-1 at Providence on Friday night and on Saturday beat the Adirondack Phantoms 2-1 at Glens Falls, N.Y.
"There's still a (sharp) learning curve," Dineen said. "There were incredible mistakes made out there that were able to survive, but there was a tempo to the game where we felt were pushing at people instead of sitting back. There was a (stretch of games) where we were waiting for the game to come to us instead of setting the pace, so that is different."
Special-team play made the difference for the Pirates during the first period.
Portland opened the scoring six seconds into their first power play when Whitmore lifted the puck into the right side after receiving Matt Ellis' centering pass from behind the net.
The Pirates also killed off nearly five minutes of penalties during the first period, including a 48-second segment when the Monarchs skated with a two-man advantage.
Less than four minutes into the second period, rookie Maxime Legault made it 2-0 when he scored his third goal in three games during a scrum in front of the Manchester goal. Igor Gongalsky kept whacking at the puck after trying to stick a wrap-around shot inside the right post. Legault skated in from the left to sweep it past goalie Martin Jones for his fourth goal.
With five minutes left in the period, Colin Stuart slid a rebound into the right side for his fifth goal.
Less than a minute into the third period, Manchester defenseman Thomas Hickey put in a blast from the left point for his third goal.
Three minutes later, Whitmore sent a centering pass from Mark Mancari inside the left post with one second left on a power play for a 4-1 lead.
Barely a minute went by before Manchester defenseman Corey Elkins tipped in his ninth goal during a power play to complete the scoring.
"When you go into a skid you lose sight of the staples that made this team good, and I think it is our work ethic," Whitmore said. "When that's not there, you know, we have problems. When we're not prepared at the drop of the puck and we get behind a little bit, we make it tough on ourselves. When we have all 20 guys ready to go and ready to compete and outwork the guy across from (them), then this team is a very, very awesome team."
NOTES: The return of leading scorer Mancari to the Portland lineup after five days in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres enabled Marc-Andre Gragnani to return to playing defense.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: