The Pirates rode the return of Bobby Ryan from his latest stint with Anaheim to a 3-2 win and 2-1 series lead over the Wolf Pack tonight in front of a crowd of 3,848 at the Cumberland Count Civic Center in Portland.
As they have in each of the two previous games in this series, the Pack put themselves back on their heals with a penalty in the first minute of play. In the first game it was P.A. Parenteau who took a tripping call at the 23 second mark. In game two, Corey Potter was whistled for tripping just 50 seconds in. Tonight Parenteau once again put the Pack down a man early, taking a slashing call at the :27 mark. Unlike in the previous two games, the Pack were able to kill off the early penalty, but it gave the Pirates the opportunity to get off to a good start and dictate the tone of play through the first period. And it finally paid off for them at the 16:13 mark when Geoff Platt beat Pack goaltender David LeNeveu to give Portland the 1-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, the Pack were back on the defensive, killing their third penalty of the period, when Portland took their first two-goal game of the series when Ryan picked up his second point of the night with a goal at 18:22, while Josh Gratton looked on from the penalty box.
The Pack battled back in the second, scoring two goals in just over two and a half minutes. At the six minute mark a line of Mike Ouellette, Artem Anisimov and Gratton, one of four new line combinations put together by coach Ken Gernander for this game, kept the puck deep in the Portland zone, forcing Portland to ice the puck off consecutive defensive zone draws. Portland won the third faceoff, but Anisimov was able to get control of the puck behind the net and walk out to the left side, where he spun and put a shot on goal. Portland goaltender J.S. Aubin made the initial save, but left a rebound which Ouellette was able to get a stick on for a second shot before being unceremoniously dumped by a Portland defender in front of the net. Aubin stopped that shot as well, but again couldn’t control the rebound and Anisimov was able to pull the puck out of the pile of bodies and put it up over Aubin to make it 2-1 at the six minute mark.
Two minutes and thirty-seven second later as both teams were in the midst of line changes, Alex Bourret found Corey Potter streaking down the left side. Potter was able to use his speed to get past the Portland defenseman and cut in on Aubin alone — one of three such opportunities in the game for Potter. In this instance, Aubin made the initial save, but couldn’t control the rebound, which Greg Moore was able to put past him to make it 2-2 at 8:37.
But a hooking penalty by Tomas Pock would put the Pack back on their heels at 12:03 and give Portland their fourth power play of the game. The Pack were able to kill it off, but only 8 seconds after Pock returned, Portland defenseman Joe Callahan fired a shot on LeNeveu from the left point. LeNeveu left a juicy rebound right in front, where a breakdown in defensive coverage left Jason King all along in front to put it in the open side of the net.
The Pack were given a perfect opportunity to answer back twenty seconds later when Pirate winger Simon Ferguson was whistled for hooking, but their primary power play unit of Dane Byers, Lauri Korpikoski and Parenteau struggled to even get the puck in the zone. The second unit of Hugh Jessiman, Anisimov and Alex Bourret faired a bit better, and the Pack were able to generate some momentum after the power play expired. But just over a minute and a half later a tripping penalty on Corey Potter put the Pirates back on the man advantage. The Pack killed it off, and in the closing seconds of the period fed Potter for a breakaway as he exited the penalty box. Potter put a good move on Aubin, but Aubin was equal to the challenge and swallowed the rebound as the buzzer sounded marking the end of the 2nd period.
The Pirates controlled the pace of play for large periods of time in the 3rd, pinning the Pack in their zone, though they had only 4 shots on goal to show for it in the period. Over the few shifts they were able to apply consistent pressure on the Pirates, the Pack were only able to generate 4 shots of their own. Their best opportunity came when Jordan Owens fed Mike Lee down low about halfway through the period. Lee was in alone on Aubin and appeared to pull the puck around him on the forehand with the entire side of the net wide open, but Aubin either got a toe on it, or Lee shanked the shot on what appeared to be a sure goal. And once again the Pack’s formerly potent power play failed to capitalize on a prime opportunity when P.A. Parenteau drew a holding call on Bruno St. Jacques at 15:18. As they did all game, the Pack power play struggled to get set up in the Pirate zone, insisting on attempting fancy chip plays at the Pirate blue line rather than getting the puck deep in the zone. And on the rare occasions they did set up in the Portland zone, they opted for risky cross-ice passes looking for the perfect shot, rather than putting pucks on net and looking for deflections and rebounds, as they have all season.
Tempers flared as the final buzzer sounded. It looked initially like Parenteau might have started things off by going after St. Jacques, but a penalty to Hugh Jessiman for elbowing at the twenty minute mark suggests he might have kicked things off with a late hit off camera. Bourret had also upset the Pirates bench minutes earlier with a hit that appeared to leave a Portland player in pain as he made his way slowly to the bench. Regardless of the cause, all 12 players on the ice paired off, including Aubin, who paired off with a Hartford forward, since LeNeveu had been pulled for the extra skater in the closing minute of the game. In the end, only Parenteau and St. Jacques and Jessiman and Callahan dropped the gloves, with Jessiman and Callahan earning game misconducts for engaging in a secondary altercation.
2. Anisimov (1) (Ouellette) 6:00
2. Moore (1) (Potter, Bourret) 8:37
Byers – Korpikoski – Parenteau
Jessiman – Moore – Bourret
Ouellette – Anisimov – Gratton
Pyatt – Lee – Owens
Hutchinson – Potter
Pock – Taylor
Baranka – Sanguinetti
LeNeveu / Wiikman
1. Bobby Ryan
2. Geoff Platt
3. Corey Potter
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