Thursday, December 5, 2013
By DAVE SALTER Special to the Press Herald
ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland - Captain Alexandre Bolduc fired home a pair of goals and Chad Johnson posted the shutout as the Portland Pirates blanked the St. John's IceCaps 4-0 Wednesday at Mile One Centre.
The Pirates' performance contrasted greatly from Tuesday's 8-7 overtime loss to St. John's. On Wednesday, the Pirates dominated the game from start to finish, tightening up their defense significantly.
Bolduc opened the scoring at 12:16 of the first period and Brett Hextall made it 2-0 at 8:09 of the second. Bolduc scored again 24 seconds into the third period and Chris Connor completed the scoring at 7:45. Phil Lane, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Evan Brophey recorded assists.
Johnson turned aside 19 shots for the shutout..
Pirates Coach Ray Edwards was all smiles after the win with plenty of praise for Johnson and Bolduc.
"It was big for Johnny to come back tonight after last night's game," said Edwards. Johnson allowed all eight goals on Tuesday.
"I'm proud of him for his effort. He's a guy that we brought in here to be a big player and we wanted to show trust (in him) by starting him again tonight."
As for Bolduc, who leads Portland with 10 points in five games, Edwards said he was the Pirates' best player in the two-game set.
"He's our captain and he leads by example. He's been really good for us," said Edwards. "He wanted to come back (to Portland) this year and be with this young group. He chose to come back. He knew we were going to be young but he wanted to be here because he feels that these young players drive him. He wants to get back to the NHL. I'm real proud of his effort tonight."
Bolduc said his teammates rallied around Johnson
"After last night's game, things were said (in the room). Our goalie stepped up and said he needed to be better," said Bolduc. "The players respect that a lot."
Johnson said the Pirates gave up significantly fewer scoring chances than the previous contest and credited communication and greater defensive awareness
"I can see it that they tightened up for me (to get the shutout)," said Johnson. "But they battled hard for me all night. We just battled together, we stuck together."
After Tuesday's night's sloppy effort, Johnson hopes Wednesday's dominant performance is something the Pirates can build on.
"Early in the year you want to set an identity," said Johnson.
"Tonight was a good marker."