If the Portland Pirates have a mantra this season, it is this: Get to three. If they can find a way to score three goals, the defensive-minded Pirates are nearly unbeatable.

They worked their magic again Thursday night as Francis Wathier scored twice to lead the eighth-seeded Pirates to a 5-0 victory over the No. 1 Manchester Monarchs before a crowd of 3,171 at Cross Insurance Arena, evening their best-of-five opening-round Calder Cup playoff series at two games apiece.

Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Arena, where the Monarchs won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 11-4.

“We seem to do OK when we score three goals,” said a grinning Pirates coach Ray Edwards.

In the regular season, they did it 33 times. Their only two losses came in overtime. Counting two playoff victories, they have yet to lose in regulation when they get to three.

Facing elimination Sunday night in Portland, they won 3-2 when Wathier scored with 2.9 seconds left. He scored again in the final minute of the first period Thursday night.

“It’s been fun,” Wathier said. “I’m a guy who takes nutrition and taking care of my body really seriously. I may be 30 years old but I feel like a young pup.”

Wathier leads the Pirates with three playoff goals. In the 68 games prior, he scored only five.

With all Portland’s injuries, Wathier has been called on more and more. He started at center Thursday night and delivered not only the first goal but the clincher in the first minute of the third for a 4-0 lead.

“When you get more ice time, you get more flow going, you get more opportunity and you want the game a little more,” he said. “You want the puck and the game-winning goal on your stick. You want to be that guy who makes the difference.”

Wathier had plenty of help. Louis Domingue made 28 saves in a game the Pirates were outshot 28-19. Defensemen Brandon Gormley and Patrick McNeill scored their first goals of the playoffs and Brandon Perlini, in only his third pro game, added the final goal with a little more than a minute remaining.

Perlini became the 10th Pirate to score in this series. Nine have one goal and Wathier has three.

“This is his time of year,” Edwards said of Wathier. “He works extremely hard at his game. You can tell there’s a different jump in his step. He’s been the one stirring the drink for us, especially these last couple games.”

He wasn’t alone Thursday. Gormley and Henrik Samuelsson each had two assists. Eric Selleck, Lucas Lessio, Jordan Szwarz and Laurent Dauphin each had one.

The Pirates also killed off six penalties, two in the first period with the game still scoreless.

“That’s been us all year,” Edwards said. “Whether it was a blocked shot or just getting the puck out, or getting the puck deep or winning a faceoff, we had everybody throw their hand in the mix (Thursday night). Our group has to do that for us.”

The Monarchs carried play for most of the first period, putting heavy pressure on Domingue thanks to two power plays. But the Pirates hung in and took momentum in the last minute.

Lessio carried up the left wing and sent the puck along the boards. In the corner, McNeill tied up a defender and let the puck pass through so Selleck could gain control in stride behind the net. Upon emerging near the right post, Selleck slid a pass across the crease to an oncoming Wathier, who tapped it in.

“We didn’t capitalize on our chances early and they did,” said Manchester’s Brian O’Neill, the league MVP. “That was the difference.”

The pattern continued in the second, with the Monarchs repeatedly threatening but Domingue coming up with big saves. Twenty seconds after Edwards called a timeout following a sustained Manchester attack, the Pirates scored again when Gormley’s shot from the left point hit a defender, and fluttered up and over goaltender Jean-Francois Berube for a 2-0 lead.

After killing off a third penalty, the Pirates made their first power play count. A trip by Ryan Horvat followed by a delay of game call on O’Neill gave Portland an extended five-on-three power play.

Not quite a minute into the two-man advantage, Gormley took a shot that Berube saved, but McNeill buried the rebound to make it 3-0. The Monarchs opened the third with 39 seconds left on a power play, but any comeback hopes evaporated shortly after the kneeing penalty to Wathier expired. He returned to the ice, picked up a pass from Szwarz and uncorked a slap shot from above the left circle that beat Berube to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead.