PORTLAND – Defenseman Tyler Eckford scored his second goal of the game 3:19 into overtime Friday night as the Portland Pirates beat the Worcester Sharks 4-3 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

It was a game the Pirates could have lost. The Sharks outplayed them for much of the way.

“We can’t continue to play like this and continue to get points,” Portland Coach Ray Edwards said. “We had a goaltender who stood on his head and we found a way to get some points. Getting points early in the year is important but we’ve got a lot of things to clean up.”

Curtis McElhinney stopped a season-high 44 shots in regulation. The Sharks didn’t put a shot on goal in overtime.

“We got lucky,” said Eckford, who won it with a shot from the right circle on a power play. “Our third periods have got to get better. We build a lead and we just kind of back off and kind of play cautious.”

It was the fifth consecutive home win for Portland, which earned points for the sixth consecutive game to take sole possession of third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Sharks held a 29-15 edge in shots after two periods, but the Pirates (9-7-1-1) took a 3-1 lead when Andy Miele scored twice in the last six minutes.

Miele, who had a six-game points streak end Wednesday night, snapped a 1-1 tie 14 minutes into the period when his shot from point-blank range hit the shaft of goalie Harri Saleri’s stick and bounced over him.

With less than three minutes left in the period, Miele got his stick on the puck and slid it past Saleri for his team-high seventh goal on Portland’s first power play of the game.

Worcester closed within a goal when Curt Gogol finished off a rush by scoring his third goal on a shot from the right circle with more than 11 minutes left. With less than nine minutes left, Tommy Wingels tied it when he scored his third goal of the season with a shot from the bottom of the right circle.

“We can’t sit back when we have the lead,” Miele said. “We’ve got to keep going and keep doing what we’ve been doing all game.”

“We have a good team,” Eckford said. “We just need to play a full 60 minutes.”

The score was 1-1 at the end of the first period, when the Sharks held a 15-6 edge in shots.

The Pirates opened the scoring 5:08 into the game when Eckford scored from the right point.

Exactly one minute later, Benn Ferriero redirected John McCarthy’s shot from the left circle into the net while standing in front of the crease for his sixth goal.

The goal came less than a minute into the first of Worcester’s three power plays in the first period.

NOTES: Justin Pogge, who missed the previous four games because of a lower-body injury, served as McElhinney’s backup. A broken right foot kept former UMaine center Ben Guite out of the Worcester lineup for the eighth consecutive game.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH


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