Francis Wathier scored only five times during the regular season, but his goal Sunday with 2.9 seconds remaining kept the Portland Pirates’ season alive for at least one more game.

If the injury-riddled Pirates are to extend their AHL playoff series against Manchester, they must once again find offense from unlikely sources.

Game 4 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena, with the Pirates trailing two games to one.

In Portland’s dramatic 3-2 victory Sunday, the unlikely offense came from Wathier, Phil Lane and Eric Selleck, who scored a combined 16 goals during the season. They helped make up for the absence of injured forwards Alexandre Bolduc, Jordan Martinook, Justin Hodgman and Darian Dziurzynski – who accounted for 64 goals and 99 assists.

“With a lot of injuries, people have got to step up,” said Lane, who scored a first-period goal Sunday.

The Monarchs compiled the league’s best record and won the first two games of this series by a combined score of 11-4.

“They have a lot of small skill guys who are fast,” Lane said of the Monarchs after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve just got to take time and space away from them, play hard on them, and try to get under their skin a little bit.”

Ultimately, Portland’s hopes may rest with another fine goaltending performance from Louis Domingue and the emergence of youngsters Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini and Laurent Dauphin. They all joined the Pirates following the completion of their junior league seasons.

“Obviously, everybody is bigger and stronger and faster up here,” said Dvorak, 19, who will center a line that includes Brendan Shinnimin and Henrik Samuelsson. “But I think I’m adjusting to it pretty well.”

Dvorak and Dauphin each scored a goal in the final week of the regular season and each has an assist in the playoffs. Perlini watched Game 1 after his promotion and played in Games 2 and 3 without scoring a point.

Nobody got more out of practices Tuesday and Wednesday than the new kids on the block.

“It’s been beneficial for them to get a bit more understanding of some of the detail we like to play with,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards. “One of the great things about having these youngsters in here is that you get to watch them perform under tough situations.

“How quickly do they adjust? How quickly can they learn?”

Throw in a high-quality opponent, and the Arizona front-office folks who drafted Dvorak, Perlini and Dauphin in the first and second rounds can get a better idea of how they might handle themselves in the NHL. Edwards is trying not to put too much on their plates.

Only Dvorak is on the power play.

“It’s a lot to ask to learn all of this stuff,” he said. “It has taken us 70 games to learn it, and you’re asking these guys to come in and in three or four games, know it all. So give them a lot of credit because they’ve had to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time.”

NOTES: Manchester center Andrew Crescenzi, who was suspended for Game 3 after a flagrant boarding penalty that left Dziurzynski showing signs of a concussion, is expected back Thursday night. Dziurzynski practiced Wednesday wearing a noncontact yellow jersey and might be able to return for a possible Game 5. … Bolduc was also knocked out of Game 2 following a knee-on-knee collision in the neutral zone during which his skate got caught in the ice. He will not play again in this series. … Veteran goaltender Mike McKenna was pulled in Game 2 after Manchester scored twice in the first 30 seconds. “It’s always spoken of as a team game, but as a goaltender, you really have the ability to make a difference in the game. Sometimes your teammates rely on you to do that. That’s really the hardest thing about it. You feel like you’ve let them down.” … Game 5 would be at 7 p.m. Saturday in Manchester.