PORTLAND – The Portland Pirates’ late-season woes on their home ice continued Saturday night.

The Charlotte Checkers broke open a close game by scoring three goals in the first seven minutes of the third period and held on for a 5-4 win before a crowd of 5,420 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

It was the Pirates’ third consecutive loss at the Civic Center, but they still clinched a playoff berth when the Worcester Sharks suffered a 7-2 loss against the Springfield Falcons.

“We’ve been a good home team all year, and obviously, that seems like a distant memory right now after the way we played,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said.

“We seem not to be handling adversity very well right now. Our frustration level is high and our ability to stick with what works is inconsistent. We saw snapshots of some good play tonight, but our overall game is out of sync right now.”

For the second straight game, special teams play was a problem for Portland, which gave up four power-play goals in a 5-1 loss to Bridgeport Friday night.

The Checkers scored two power-play goals, a short-handed goal and another goal when the teams were skating four on four.

“We’d like to think we have our systems in place at this stage and we’re tweaking other things,” Dineen said. “But we’re going to overhaul and get back to what works best for us.

“We’ve got a lot of hockey down the stretch, and right now we’re not playing our best hockey, so we’re not going to have much time to think about it.”

The score was 2-2 at the end of the first period.

Portland left wing Jacob Lagace scored two minutes into the game when he flicked in Brian Roloff’s wraparound pass from the right side.

Five minutes later, center Cedric McNicoll deflected defenseman Bryan Rodney’s shot from the top of the slot past Portland goalie David Leggio 40 seconds into the Checkers’ first power play.

Charlotte took a 2-1 lead with less than four minutes left in the period when Chris Terry finished off a two-on-one break for a short-handed goal. Brett Sutter, son of former NHL star Brent Sutter, had an assist.

With 18 seconds left in the first, Mark Voakes capped a five-shot flurry by jamming in his sixth goal in only his 11th game with Portland.

The Pirates held a 17-12 edge in shots during the second period and regained the lead when right wing Mark Parrish hustled down the slot during a power play to push a rebound past Justin Pogge for his 15th goal.

Less than seven minutes into the third, Jacob Mcflikier, Terry and Zach Boychuk scored to give the Checkers a 5-3 lead.

“I should have put a stop to it, called a timeout and settled the guys down,” Dineen said. “But I’ve seen it so many times before this year and I thought we could pull it together. It wasn’t to be tonight.”

Lagace scored his ninth goal with less than four minutes left.

NOTES: Buffalo reassigned Mark Mancari to Portland prior to the Sabres’ game at New Jersey to make room for Jochen Hecht’s return, but it is unclear when Mancari will actually return to the Pirates. 

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

[email protected]