The Portland Pirates bounced back Friday night from a disappointing loss and held on to the last playoff berth in the AHL’s Eastern Conference, as Mike McKenna made 30 saves in a 2-0 win over the Providence Bruins before 4,013 at Cross Insurance Arena.

The victory came three days after the Pirates blew an early 2-0 lead and gave up four third-period goals in a 5-2 loss at Bridgeport.

“We played a lot better,” Portland Coach Scott Allen said. “We did a good job of managing the puck.”

The Pirates, who have earned at least a point in seven on their last eight games, remain two points ahead of Hartford for the conference’s eighth playoff spot.

Connor Brickley opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game with his ninth goal of the season.

Defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who leads the Pirates with 32 assists, fired a low, hard shot from center point, and Brickley, who was skating across the slot, tipped it past the reach of goalie Jeremy Smith.

“Their goalie was playing the shot to go one way, and we just directed it the other way,” Allen said.

With less than seven minutes left in the second period, Rob Schremp made it 2-0 when he tipped in defenseman Matt MacKenzie’s blast from the right point for his team-high 21st goal.

“That second goal was a prime example of an outstanding shift by all five guys who were out on the ice,” Allen said. “They basically broke down the defensive zone coverage, and that opened up the opportunity to sail the puck through from the point. It was just great puck management.”

It was MacKenzie’s first point since he joined the Pirates three weeks ago after spending the first five months of the season with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs. He previously played four AHL seasons with the Rochester Americans.

“He’s been down this road before and he knows what it takes,” Allen said. “He’s earned every right to be in the lineup and he did a fantastic job for us tonight.”

No penalties were called during the first 38 minutes. The Pirates didn’t commit the first of their two penalties until midway through the third period.

“(Providence) is the No. 1 special-teams team in the league,” Allen said. “Their power play is first and their penalty kill is third. If you give them a lot of power-play opportunities, eventually it’s going to fall for them.”

It was the fourth shutout of the season for McKenna.

“He was on his game tonight,” Allen said. “Sometimes a puck looks big and sometimes it looks like an aspirin. I assume it looked fairly large for him tonight.”

McKenna credited his success to the way his team played in front of him.

“We played really well, and that makes it look easy sometimes,” he said. “If you look at our shot chart tonight, I’m sure more (shots) were perimeter, and even those I would consider Grade A were a little bit higher out. They really weren’t coming from the middle of the ice, which is what we’re trying to eliminate.”