March 29, 2010

Short-handed Pirates keep rolling along

Despite the promotion of two more top players, Portland earns its fourth straight victory.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Four of their leading scorers were not in the lineup, but the Portland Pirates still found a way to win.

click image to enlarge

Drew Schiestel, right, of the Pirates dives in attempt to knock the puck away from Donald Brashear during Portland's 3-2 win Sunday over the Hartford Wolf Pack at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Pirates defenseman Mike Weber pins Hartford's Paul Crowder along the boards during Sunday's game. Weber also scored his fifth goal of the season.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Kyle Wanvig scored the decisive goal on a breakaway late in the second period to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 win against the Hartford Wolf Pack before a crowd of 4,751 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"It just shows the depth of our team," Wanvig said. "On any given night, we've got guys who can put the puck into the net."

It was the fourth consecutive win for the Pirates, who remained three points behind Worcester for the Atlantic Division lead.

"I really liked our first period," Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. "We were ugly in the second period. In the last 10 minutes it wasn't pretty, but we really worked hard.

"It's a good complement to our players that they just keep finding a way to win games."

Only 17 skaters, one under the lineup maximum, were available for the Pirates.

Leading scorer Mark Mancari and 2009 AHL rookie of the year Nathan Gerbe were recalled to the NHL by the parent Buffalo Sabres earlier Sunday. Tyler Ennis, the team's second leading scorer, was called up Saturday.

All three of those players are expected to be in Buffalo's lineup for tonight's game in Boston.

In addition, veteran forward Brad Cowan missed his third consecutive game since he was hit in the face by Manchester forward Brett Westgarth's stick last Sunday.

The four forwards have scored 78 of the Pirates' 225 goals this season.

Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier, who was at Sunday's game, said the recall of Ennis, Mancari and Gerbe is unlikely to be permanent. "We'll know a little bit more (today), but I don't think it's long term," he said. Injuries to Buffalo forwards Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, Patrick Kaleta and Raffi Torres necessitated the call-ups.

"You can say we were short-handed, but we were really down only one man," Dineen said. "(The guys) who have gone off to play in Boston have filled (important roles) for us, and there was a lot of enthusiasm that there were going to be some opportunities (for other players) in some high-end offensive spots."

The Pirates took an early 2-0 lead.

Derek Whitmore opened the scoring 22 seconds into the game, converting a centering pass from Felix Schutz for his 16th goal of the season on a shot from the slot.

Defenseman Mike Weber made it 2-0 at 11:56, scoring his fifth goal on a shot from the top of the left circle 32 seconds into Portland's first power play.

The Wolf Pack pulled into a tie when Ryan Garlock and Dale Weise scored 48 seconds apart less than five minutes into the second period.

Wanvig's 12th goal, which came while both teams were skating short-handed, put the Pirates into the lead for good. He pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone after a long, hard shot by Hartford defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen rebounded off the back wall.

"I was straight-legging it down the ice," Wanvig said. "Fortunately, the defenseman was just as tired as I was."

Todd Ford made 28 saves to record his second win since joining the Pirates last weekend after starting goalie Jhonas Enroth sustained an injury to his left leg.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

 

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