Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By NATE OWEN Special to the Telegram
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Portland Pirates left Springfield with a win Saturday night thanks to some unlikely contributors.
Mike Lee made 27 saves in his first AHL start since Feb. 1, and Boris Valabik's first goal of the season broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, helping Portland to a 3-1 win before 3,776 at the MassMutual Center.
Chris Brown and Ryan Klinkhammer also scored for the Pirates, and Michael Stone had two assists.
"We needed a night where we had everybody going," Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. "From Mike to our defense, to our four lines, I thought we had a good team effort. Everyone had an impact tonight."
Lee got the start after relieving an injured Chad Johnson on Friday night in Hartford, and he moved to 4-0 in his brief AHL career.
"I got a couple of games in last week when I got sent back down. I've been playing a lot of hockey lately," said Lee, who was recalled from the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators on Feb. 14.
Klinkhammer put the Falcons up 3-1 at 8:33 of the third period, grabbing a rebound on the left post and swinging behind the net before snapping a shot over the shoulder of the Falcons' goalie Curtis McElhinney (35 saves).
McElhinney, who played for Portland last season, blanked his former team last Sunday in a 3-0 Springfield win.
This time around, Portland was able to limit the Falcons' offensive chances, and Lee was on the spot for those that got through.
A boarding call against Portland's Evan Brophey put the Falcons on the power play with 2:32 remaining in the game. Springfield pulled McElhinney, but the Pirates held strong and kept the Falcons off the board in the waning seconds.
"I thought I had a couple of good scoring chances but (Lee) played a strong game for them," Springfield forward Ryan Johansen said.
Johansen found himself all alone by the right post early in the third period, but Lee extended his right pad to kick away the shot.
"I went for the poke check and missed it, and luckily I got the leg pad out and he didn't get it up," Lee said.
Portland took a 1-0 on Brown's blast from just outside the left faceoff circle at 7:11 of the first. The Pirates outshot the Falcons 13-4 in the opening period but went into intermission tied 1-1, thanks to Wade MacLeod's power-play goal at 17:51.
NOTES: With goalie Mark Visentin also injured, the Pirates called up Louis Domingue from Gwinnett. ... Portland snapped Springfield's five-game point streak.