After winning his first two games as the new head coach of the Portland Pirates, Scott Allen was saddled with his first loss Sunday.

A third-period rally by the Pirates fell short, enabling the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to pull out a 2-1 win before a crowd of 3,100 at Cross Insurance Arena.

“It was certainly a winnable game,” said Allen, who became head coach when Tom Rowe was promoted to associate general manager of the NHL parent Florida Panthers. “I didn’t like the way we played in the first two periods. I don’t think we did enough, but I give credit to (Lehigh Valley), also. They play a very strong game defensively in regards to controlling and managing ice. They force you to make decisions, and unfortunately for us we didn’t make the right decisions enough.”

This is the third time Allen has become an AHL head coach following the promotion of his predecessor during a season.

In 2003, he served as head coach of the San Antonio Rampage for 15 games after John Torchetti became an assistant coach for the parent Florida Panthers. In 2004, he again took over as head coach of the Rampage after Steve Ludzik was promoted to Florida as an assistant coach.

“When it happens three times, it tells me I’m getting old,” Allen said.

A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Allen, 49, is in his 20th season as a coach at the professional level.

“Our whole team is familiar with what he brings to us,” goalie Mike McKenna said. “It’s not like someone is coming carte blanche and changing everything. It’s a very smooth transition.”

Allen doesn’t intend to make any major changes.

“Tom gave me so much responsibility in regards to the structure and our system that that’s not going to change,” said Allen. “We’re still building a foundation. We’re trying to keep this thing headed in the right direction.”

After beating Lehigh Valley 4-3 in overtime Saturday night, the Pirates made a strong push to erase a two-goal deficit in the third period Sunday. They had an 18-4 edge in shots in the final 20 minutes, but veteran goalie Jason LaBarbara stopped all but one of them to preserve the victory for the Phantoms. He finished with 37 saves.

“LaBarbara played very well, but we should have had that same type of desperation earlier in the game,” Allen said. “We can’t wait until we’re down by two (goals) to muster that type of attack.”

The Phantoms led 1-0 lead after one period. Cole Bardeau opened the scoring when he put in a shot from just inside the right circle, firing the puck between goalie Sam Brittain’s pads for his second goal of the season.

LaBarbera stopped Shane Harper on a breakaway late in the first period.

LaBarbara, who has played for six NHL teams and six AHL teams in a professional career that began in the 2000-01 season, came up big again when he kept Brett Olson from directing a rebound into the right side of the net early in the second period.

Danick Martel made it 2-0 midway through the second period when he turned a centering pass from Nick Cousins into his 13th goal with a quick shot from the slot.

The Pirates’ lone goal came less than two minutes into the third period when Harper put in a shot from the middle of the right circle for his fifth goal of the season, after receiving Rocco Grimaldi’s pass from the opposite faceoff dot.

NOTES: Tim Brent, a center who spent two seasons with the Pirates when the team was affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks, plays on the Phantom’s top line. … The Pirates will spend next weekend in Newfoundland playing a two-game series against the St. John’s IceCaps. … Portland has earned points in 12 of its last 15 games to move into the third place in the Atlantic Division with a .578 winning percentage.