After Francis Wathier’s dramatic winning goal Sunday night, just under three seconds remained on the clock.

That was enough time for a faceoff at center ice, and as it turned out, a slashing penalty after Manchester’s Josh Gratton used his stick to jab Portland’s Phil Lane, who fell to the ice and remained there for a few moments before limping off as tempers flared and officials tried to keep the teams separated.

“A little slash by Gratz,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards, who coached Gratton in San Antonio seven years ago. “A little playoff slash. Stuff that happens.”

Not much love is lost between these teams in neighboring states, a rivalry exacerbated by an in-game promotion Saturday night in Manchester that referred to “the most terrible Pirates” and mocked the team for its lowest-in-the-league attendance and 3-9 regular-season record against the Monarchs.

Throw in the four Pirates not in uniform Sunday – Alexandre Bolduc, Darian Dziurzynski, Evan Oberg and Jordan Martinook – because they sustained injuries against Manchester, and you can understand why the Pirates’ locker room was rather raucous following Sunday’s 3-2 victory.

“It was an exciting win and we’re pretty happy to get it,” said Portland’s Eric Selleck, whose goal off the rebound of a Lucas Lessio shot tied the score at 2 in the second period. “Now there’s hope.”

Manchester, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, won the first two games at home against eighth-seeded Portland, 5-2 and 6-2. A year ago, the Monarchs were also the No. 1 seed but lost a first-round series to No. 8 Norfolk in four games.

“Hopefully, that goes through their minds and helps us for Thursday’s game,” said Wathier. “We’ve been battling so hard to come back, and now momentum is on our side and we’re looking big-time forward to Thursday.”

MANCHESTER PLAYED without forward Andrew Crescenzi, who was serving a one-game suspension “as a consequence of a boarding incident” Saturday night in Game 2. Crescenzi slammed an unsuspecting Dziurzynski into the boards near the Monarchs bench and drew a 5-minute major and game misconduct.

Dziurzynski, who wobbled away unsteadily, was not in uniform Sunday night, nor was Bolduc, who injured his lower leg in a neutral-zone collision in the first period Saturday. Bolduc led the Pirates in scoring (23 goals, 29 assists in 62 games), and at plus-14 had the best plus-minus rating on the team.

Edwards said he didn’t expect any of the injured players to return for Game 4. “Maybe one of them,” he said, “but I don’t think so.”

MIKE MCKENNA, the Pirates’ regular-season MVP and hero of the playoff-clinching 5-4 comeback victory April 19 in Worcester, was a healthy scratch. Dave Leggio dressed as the backup goalie to Louis Domingue. Center Tyler Gaudet, who missed Saturday’s game because of a death in the family, returned to the lineup.