PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Frustration occupied a seat on the Portland Pirates’ bus during the drive back home after Sunday’s game against the Providence Bruins.

Providence center Frank Vatrano registered a hat track, including a goal 40 seconds into overtime, and Providence handed the Pirates their third loss in 48 hours, 4-3.

What really irked Portland Coach Scott Allen was that Vatrano’s second and third goals came off Pirates turnovers.

“I don’t know how many times we’ve got to talk about Frank Vatrano,” Allen said of a opponent who has scored 10 goals against Portland this season. “There really is no excuse.

“The first goal is what it is. It was scored from behind the goal line. That’s what goal scorers do. The next two resulted from poor individual play.”

Vatrano leads the American Hockey League with 29 goals despite playing in only 28 games for Providence.

Portland’s Mike McKenna (41 saves) and Providence’s Jeremy Smith (27 saves) matched each other until the latter stages of the first period, when the Bruins erupted for two goals in a span of 19 seconds.

First, Justin Hickman slid the puck to Joonas Kemppainen, who jammed it inside the left post at 17:13.

Then Vatrano pounced on a loose puck in front of the crease and stuffed it past McKenna for a 2-0 lead.

Even though Providence’s Ben Sexton was penalized for elbowing at 19:55, it appeared the Bruins would still lead 2-0 at intermission. But Rob Schremp won the faceoff to defenseman Dylan Olsen, who unloaded a slap shot that deflected off Smith’s shoulder and flopped into the goal with a mere second left on the clock.

The assist was Schremp’s 400th AHL point.

Providence outshot Portland 23-7 in the second period, yet the Pirates emerged with a 2-2 tie, courtesy of Brett Olson and McKenna.

Olson was skating down the slot when he was dragged down from behind but somehow managed to shovel the puck past Smith at 16:52.

McKenna, meanwhile, stopped all 23 Providence shots, including three during a flurry seconds after Olson’s tying goal.

The Bruins regained the lead, though, when Vatrano stole the puck from a Portland defenseman and beat McKenna with a wrist shot at 8:48 of the third.

The Pirates forced overtime, when Rocco Grimaldi banged home the rebound of a Cameron Gaunce shot with 57.8 seconds left in regulation.

“We showed some resolve to battle back,” Allen said. “But unfortunately we didn’t do enough to get the win.”

In overtime, Vatrano stole the puck at his own blue line, broke in alone on McKenna and scored with a wrist shot to complete his hat trick.

Even though the Pirates are in playoff position as of now – with the seventh best points percentage in the Eastern Conference – they’ve been struggling over their last 10 games, going 3-4-2-1.

“Again, we’re one day at a time,” Allen said. “We lost two key players (defenseman Brent Regner and forward Chase Balisy) today. We were down to five defensemen for most of the day.

“It is what it is. We’ll get through this.”