Francis Wathier’s teammates sometimes teased him for staying late after practices to work on nifty moves in front of the net.

After all, this is a guy who broke into the American Hockey League a decade ago and managed only five goals in 68 games with the Pirates this season.

On Sunday night, the only ribbing Wathier took came from within a massive group hug on the side boards as the Pirates celebrated a thrilling 3-2 playoff victory over the top-seeded Manchester Monarchs on a goal by Wathier with 2.9 seconds remaining.

“You play hockey for those moments,” said Wathier, holding his 18-month-old daughter in his arms. “I’m 30 years old. I’ve been playing (professionally) for 10 years and there’s never something that prepares you for that.”

A crowd of 2,660 at Cross Insurance Arena erupted while Wathier leaped like Tom Brady in the final moments of the Super Bowl as the Pirates won to extend their first-round series to Game 4 Thursday night in Portland. Manchester won the first two games of the best-of-five series, 5-2 and 6-2 in New Hampshire.

Should the Pirates win again Thursday, a decisive Game 5 would be Saturday night in Manchester.

“I was jumping as high as I could,” Wathier said. “After I scored, that was the loudest I’ve ever heard the (building). That was nice.”

Louis Domingue made 31 saves for the Pirates, who had taken a 1-0 lead in the first period on a tip-in by Phil Lane and tied it at 2 in the second on a rebound buried by Eric Selleck. Lane scored three goals in 53 games and Selleck had eight in 74 during the season.

“You look at the guys who scored and they’re probably not the guys you see on the score sheet every night,” said Brendan Shinnimin, who set the final play in motion with a pass from the corner, “but that’s what makes a team good, when you get those guys chipping in. We battled hard and got rewarded.”

Michael Mersch and Jordan Weal scored for the Monarchs, who held a 33-23 advantage in shots but converted only one of seven power-play opportunities, and then only when they held a five-on-three advantage. The Pirates were 0 for 3 on the power play.

The last team to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs upset the Eastern Conference’s top seed despite playing with a patchwork lineup that included three young forwards who joined the team only last week following the end of their junior seasons.

“We probably gave up more chances (Sunday) than we did in either one of the other two games. but we found a way to win,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “Louis gave us a chance.”

The score was tied at 2 entering the third period, the first 1:21 of which had the Pirates on a power play carried over from the second. They failed to put a shot on goal and would go more than 10 minutes without doing so.

The Monarchs, seeking to end the series, had several good chances and one last power play with less than seven minutes remaining, but Domingue stopped all five shots he saw.

With the clock winding down, the Pirates broke out of their own end and Brandon Gormley dumped a shot on Manchester goaltender Jean-Francois Berube that caromed into the corner near where the Pirates enter the ice from their locker room.

Wathier had just left the bench.

“I knew we had under 10 seconds when I stepped onto the ice,” he said. “I just followed the play like I was finishing my shift. The puck was laid there.”

Shinnimin zipped the puck in front. A twisting Lane nudged it over to Wathier, who calmly pulled it to his backhand before flipping it over Berube to set off the celebration.

“He did a great job of getting the puck and having a little bit of poise there, pulling it to his backhand and getting it upstairs,” Shinnimin said. “You don’t see him do that too much.”

Maybe once every 10 years. But for Wathier, it was all worthwhile.

“It just goes to show that any given player can be a hero,” Shinnimin said. “You’ve got to be ready for whatever opportunity you get.”

The Pirates had not won a playoff game since 2011. Their next chance comes Thursday.