Trailing by a goal late in the third period, the Portland Pirates had several chances to tie.

Wade Megan drove hard on net. Gregg McKegg made a deft pass to John McFarland, who shot wide.

A Syracuse penalty set up what promised to be a final 1:35 with the Pirates having at least one skater advantage, two when they pulled their goaltender.

And then, after only 17 seconds, a retaliatory jab by McFarland prompted a roughing call and the Pirates wound up with a 3-1 loss to Syracuse on Friday night after the Crunch scored an empty-netter with a five seconds remaining.

“I know I let my team down there,” McFarland said. “I’m disappointed obviously in myself, too. It’s a penalty I can’t take. Umm, there’s not really much else to say about that other than you can’t take it.”

A crowd of 3,198 at Cross Insurance Arena saw the Pirates jump to a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Connor Brickley not quite five minutes into the contest. MacKenzie Weegar and Cameron Gaunce assisted.

Because of a double minor, the Pirates had another two minutes of a man advantage but their best chance struck iron when Rocco Grimaldi’s shot caromed off the crossbar.

For Syracuse, Yanni Gourde and Tanner Richard turned rebounds into goals, late in the first and even later in the second, respectively.

Syracuse dominated the second period, outshooting the Pirates, 18-6. Only stellar work from Sam Brittain (30 saves) kept Portland close.

“I thought the first period we were fine,” Portland Coach Scott Allen said. “I thought the first five minutes of the second we were OK. And then they outworked us for 15 straight minutes of that second period. That was certainly a concern because now you’ve got to play from behind.”

The Pirates had back-to-back power plays early in the third, generating plenty of chances the first time but struggling in the second to set up an attack.

“On that second one we couldn’t get steady puck control,” Allen said. “We couldn’t even get out of our own end, made some poor decisions, turned it over. Give credit to their penalty kill. They got the job done when they needed to get it done.”

Adam Wilcox made 29 saves for Syracuse, which lost 4-1 at home to the Pirates in their only previous meeting this season.

The biggest missed opportunity of the third was McFarland shooting wide with Wilcox out of position.

“It was one of those ones where the puck kind of rolled,” said McFarland, whose 14 goals are second on the team to Rob Schremp’s 17.

“(McKegg) made a great play. Nothing else he could really do. But when it came off my stick, it just didn’t come off flat and I ended up flubbing it and it went wide.”

A kneeing penalty on Richard with 1:35 left gave the Pirates a man advantage and a faceoff in the attacking zone. Allen opted to leave Brittain in net rather than go with a sixth skater against Syracuse’s four.

“I’ve just seen it way too many times when it doesn’t work in your favor,” Allen said. “When you’re on the penalty kill, you can obviously ice the puck. If we don’t get somebody tight on the puck all the time, all it takes is one clean clear, and there’s a good chance it’s going in the net to end it.”

Allen pulled Brittain with 42 seconds remaining, but by then the teams were skating four-on-four.

The Pirates return to action Saturday night against the visiting Providence Bruins before a rematch Sunday in Rhode Island.

NOTES: Mike McKenna, called up to the NHL Panthers for two games to back up Roberto Luongo, has returned to Portland and is expected to be in uniform Saturday night. Promoted when Florida backup Al Montoya left Sunday’s game in Minnesota after taking an elbow to the head, McKenna suited up in Winnipeg and Colorado but saw no action. … With 76 victories as a Pirate, McKenna is three shy of the franchise record held by Martin Brochu.