Springfield goalie Curtis McElhinney holds onto the puck Friday night as John Moore of the Falcons attempts to hold back Brett Hextall of the Portland Pirates, who was attempting to get a stick on a rebound. Portland won 6-5 in overtime at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
By Paul Betit
PORTLAND - Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 19 seconds into overtime to lift the Portland Pirates to a hard-fought 6-5 win over the high-flying Springfield Falcons in an American Hockey League game Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Ekman-Larsson, a 22-year-old Swedish defenseman who spent all last season in the NHL playing for the parent Phoenix Coyotes, put in the rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
The Pirates snapped a two-game losing streak by rallying from an early three-goal deficit.
"Tonight it was nice for our young group to be able to respond to a good team and come back in a game like that," Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said.
"It shows when they play the right way they can do it.
The Falcons, who have earned points in 10 of the last 11 games to lead the Northeast Division, seemed to have the game sewn up after taking a 4-1 lead less than five minutes into the second period.
But the Pirates ended an 0-for-35 drought by scoring four consecutive power-play goals to get back into the game.
"We didn't play very good in the first period," said Ekman-Larsson, who played in every game for the Coyotes last season, "but in the second and third periods we played really good, and this win was very big for us."
After Springfield took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by John Moore and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, center Alexandre Bolduc turned a long feed from Andy Miele, who had four assists, into the Pirates' first goal 18 seconds into the second.
When Springfield pulled into a 4-1 lead on goals by David Savard and Cam Atkinson less than five minutes into the second period, it looked like Portland was headed for its third consecutive loss.
But the Pirates clicked on four consecutive power plays in 6 minutes, 33 seconds to take a 5-4 advantage with less than seven minutes left in the period to end a power-play scoring drought that extended back to a Nov. 10 game at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
"We didn't do anything different tonight," Edwards said. "We just scored. Sometimes you have stretches like that and it's not going in. Well, tonight, the averages changed but it was the same plan. It was just a matter of getting people to the net, pucks to the net, and tonight they started going in for us."
Portland, which went 4-for-6 on the power play, got two power-play goals from defenseman Michael Stone, and one each from Bolduc, who has a league-leading 11 goals, and rookie forward Chris Brown.
With less than three minutes left in the second period, Sean Collins of Springfield jammed the puck past Mark Visentin, a rookie goalie who took over for veteran Chad Johnson earlier in the period, to make it 5-5.
NOTES: The Pirates will hold their annual Teddy Bear Toss next Friday night during a game against the Worcester Sharks at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Veteran right wing Joel Rechlicz, rookie left wing Scott Arnold and defensemen Mark Louis and David Rundblad were healthy scratches for the Pirates. Springfield Coach Brad Larsen served as captain of the Portland Pirates during the 2009-10 season.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:
Rob Klinkhammer of the Portland Pirates attempts to gain position in front of the Springfield net while being checked by Theo Ruth of the Falcons. The goalie is Curtis McElhinney.
Chris Brown of the Portland Pirates knocks the puck into the Springfield zone past Sean Collins of the Falcons.