MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Portland Pirates picked a poor time to be generous.

The Manchester Monarchs turned a couple of turnovers on power plays into short-handed goals, the first two goals of the game, for a 5-0 win over the Pirates at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.

“Special teams were a joke,” said Portland Coach Ray Edwards. “We give up two short-handed goals, both on breakaways. That cost us the game and gave them all the momentum. That’s a tough way to lose a game. We gave them the hockey game.”

It was another in a long line of key games down the stretch.

The Pirates, following their 4-1 win at Connecticut on Friday and Manchester’s 5-2 loss at Providence, were in position to tie the Monarchs for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Instead the Monarchs upped their point total to 71 and Portland stayed in a crowded group at 67. Providence joined the pack at 67 with a win over Connecticut on Saturday night.

Portland plays at Providence at 4:05 p.m. today.

“It’s a big bunch,” said right wing Ryan Duncan. “It’s tough to give this one up. It’s a quick turnaround but we’ve got to play a good game (today).”

The Pirates will face the Monarchs at home again Wednesday night.

Portland outshot Manchester 12-7 in the first period, but trailed 1-0. They had a 19-10 edge in shots when Manchester scored its second short-handed goal midway in the second.

“We had all the momentum in the game and that’s when you’ve got to stick the knife in,” Edwards said. “Instead we give them all the momentum.”

Stefan Legein got the first Manchester goal. He stripped Andy Miele of the puck and broke in on a two-on-none with David Meckler on goalie Peter Mannino. Legein took the shot and beat Mannino to the glove side at 8:12.

Next, Justin Azevedo chipped the puck away from Duncan back to Andrei Loktionov, who promptly passed ahead to Azevedo, sending him in alone, too. Azevedo waited until Mannino committed and put the puck behind him for 2-0 at 10:14 of the second.

“That’s unacceptable,” Duncan said. “You can’t turn the puck over like that. You can’t win games like that. Not this time of year.”

The Monarchs doubled their lead with a quick pair of goals in the third period. Patrick Mullen scored on the power play at 7:02, and 26 seconds later Loktionov broke down the right side and lifted a backhander past Mannino. Meckler closed out the scoring with 7:24 to go.

Manchester’s Jeff Zatkoff stopped 27 shots for the shutout.

CENTER ALEXANDRE BOLDUC was called up by the Coyotes on Saturday.