Less than a minute remained in a game the Portland Pirates led by three goals, yet there was Jordan Martinook placing himself in front of a slap shot, taking a painful puck to the calf.

It’s that sense of purpose and commitment that paved the way for the first shutout of the season. The Pirates beat Lehigh Valley 3-0 on Saturday night before a crowd of 3,679 on Military Appreciation Night at Cross Insurance Arena.

The victory was the fifth straight for the Pirates, who remain the only American Hockey League club unbeaten at home.

“We’re playing with a real sense of purpose right now,” said veteran goaltender Mike McKenna, who made 27 saves and survived five Lehigh Valley power plays. “You can see the tide has turned. Guys are learning what it takes to be successful in this league.”

Jordan Szwarz, Henrik Samuelsson and Lucas Lessio scored for the Pirates (7-5), who play again Tuesday night in Portland and twice next weekend before returning to the road.

One of the biggest reasons the Pirates are 4-0 at home has been their success at killing off penalties. Seventeen times the Pirates have found themselves down a skater at home. They’ve allowed one power-play goal.

“We’re doing a really nice job of working together,” Coach Ray Edwards said. “You see the shot blocking that’s going on. That’s a big part of it.”

Martinook wasn’t the only Pirate holding an ice bag to a body part. Justin Hache took a shot off his ear. Dylan Reese got cut in the face from the follow through of a stick blade.

“We’ve got guys who pay the price,” said Alexandre Bolduc, who took the initial shot on Samuelsson’s rebound goal early in the second period. “It shows we do everything for each other here. On the (penalty kill), that’s what it takes, guys who will sacrifice the body.”

Lehigh Valley (5-5-1) entered ranked fifth in the AHL on the power play, converting 21.3 percent. The Phantoms had chances and even hit the post once, but they couldn’t solve McKenna or his protective shell.

“Our coaches did a great job of briefing us on everything and making sure we knew what Lehigh Valley wanted to accomplish,” McKenna said. “So we were really diligent before the game and our execution was fantastic. The guys did a great job, a lot of strong personal efforts with guys leaning on the line and blocking shots and cleaning up everything in front.”

Szwarz scored in the final minute of the first period from the left circle after a cross-ice pass from Brendan Shinnimin, with Lessio bearing down on Phantoms goalie Rob Zepp.

“My initial reaction was to hit him going to the net,” Shinnimin said. “Lucas did a great job of driving that D back and opening up that wide side lane. I found Szwarzy and he placed the perfect shot top corner.”

The Pirates added two in the second period, one early when Samuelsson converted the rebound of Bolduc’s shot from in close and one late when Shinnimin, from behind the net, found Lessio in the high slot on a power play.

“When you put the puck in that guy’s hands,” Shinnimin said, “he’s going to score more times than not.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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