PORTLAND – Bridgeport may be the last-place team in the AHL Atlantic Division, with absolutely no chance of making the playoffs, but the Sound Tigers didn’t play like that Friday night.

Winning on the road for just the seventh time this season, Bridgeport scored four power-play goals to roll to a 5-1 victory against the Portland Pirates before a crowd of 4,376 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“We got nothing to lose and we know that, so guys are just playing for the love of it and playing hard,” said Rhett Rakhshani, a rookie right wing from Huntington Beach, Cal., who scored three power-play goals to register his first AHL hat trick.

“It does make a difference. You’re not as uptight as you would be if it were coming down to the wire. Everyone still wants to win even if you’re out of contention. It makes life a lot better.”

Because the Providence Bruins skated to a 4-2 win against the Worcester Sharks, the fourth-place team in the Atlantic Division, division-leading Portland missed out on a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

“It was one of our worst games of the year,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “It’s hard to put your finger on it.

“I think we got lulled to sleep in the first period. We only had a couple shots.

“It was just one of those games where our commitment wasn’t strong in the areas we have to play to be a successful team. It was certainly an ugly loss.”

The Sound Tigers took a 2-1 lead during the first period when they limited the Pirates to two shots on goal.

Portland defenseman T.J. Brennan opened the scoring nine minutes into the game when he put in a shot from the right circle for his 14th goal of the season. It came during a power play on what turned out to be the Pirates’ last shot of the period.

Five minutes later, Rakhshani extended his point streak to six games when Jeremy Colliton’s pass from the left side of the slot deflected off him and went into the right side of the goal.

The Sound Tigers took the lead with less than three minutes left in the period when Rob Hisey jammed in his 12th goal during a scrum in front of goalie Jake Jakaitis, making his third start for the Pirates.

With less than four minutes left in the first period, Portland’s Maxime Legault injured his right shoulder in a fight with rookie defenseman Art Bidlevskii. Luke Adam of the Pirates injured his sternum less than seven minutes into the second after taking a hard hip check from defenseman Mark Katic.

“Legault is going to be (out) for a while,” Dineen said. “As for Adam, I don’t think it’s a long-term thing, but we’ll evaluate him (this) morning.”

The Pirates held a 9-2 edge in shots during the second period, but they couldn’t make any offensive headway despite going on the power play three times during the period.

The Sound Tigers, who have won four of their nine games against the Pirates this season, put the game out of reach with three power-play goals during the final 10 minutes.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]


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