Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By CLIFF MEHRTENS Special to the Press Herald
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Portland Pirates gave up the tying goal with a half-second left in regulation, then bounced back to beat the Charlotte Checkers 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
TODAY: Pirates at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY: Adirondack at Pirates, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY: Providence at Pirates, 7 p.m.
Portland forward Corey Tropp scored on a high forehand and Pirates goaltender David Leggio smothered a shot by Charlotte's Bryan Rodney to secure the Pirates' fourth straight win.
"That was one of our stronger third periods this season," Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. "I liked a lot of different aspects of our game.
"I'm not walking away disappointed by giving up a point (to Charlotte). You get the two points and you feel good about it."
Portland, playing a man short in the final two minutes of regulation, gave up the tying goal when Chris Terry poked a rebound past Leggio to force overtime. The Checkers had pulled their goalie for a six-on-four advantage.
Portland shuffled its goaltenders when the Buffalo Sabres recalled Jhonas Enroth on Tuesday afternoon.
That moved Leggio into the No. 1 spot and left the Pirates in need of an emergency backup. They dipped into Charlotte's front office for intern Chris Jablonski, who dressed as Leggio's insurance.
Leggio stopped 24 of 27 shots and improved to 5-0.
Twice in the first period, the Pirates killed off five-on-three Charlotte advantages. Both times Portland was down two men for more than a minute.
"Our penalty killing was excellent and our power play wasn't very good," Dineen said. "That's something we're going to have to address and continue to improve at so we can have long-term success."
Portland outshot Charlotte 40-27 and had several point-blank shots turned away by Mike Murphy (2-3-1).
Derek Whitmore scored on a rebound with one minute left in the second period to give Portland a 3-2 lead. He pounced on a loose puck in the high slot after Dennis Persson broke in alone and was stopped by Murphy.
The fast-paced first seven minutes included a goal by each team, two fights and three shots that clanged off goal posts -- two by Portland.
Portland's Luke Adam, named AHL rookie of the month for October, scored to cap a three-on-one break less than 90 seconds into the game.
In the shootout, Adam, Portland's first shooter, scored again on a wrister. Leggio turned away 4 of 5 Charlotte shots, then was swarmed by his teammates after the winning stop.
The teams play again at 7 tonight, concluding Portland's four-game trip.