BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The special teams told the story on Wednesday night, and it was quite the enjoyable read for the Portland Pirates.
The Pirates scored on each of their first four power plays to earn a 5-1 victory at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in front of 2,493.
“It was a big game for us, because we didn’t have a great weekend,” Pirates coach Ray Edwards said, referencing Portland’s 7-1 loss to Binghamton on Saturday. “It was an important game for us to get feeling better. To come in and beat a team like Binghamton, who has played as well as it has played, gives us some confidence.”
Portland was carried by a two-goal effort from Chris Brown, along with tallies by Brandon McMillan, Brandon Gormley and Tobias Rieder.
Portland was tenacious throughout the contest, winning most of the loose pucks and battles along the boards in front of goaltender Mark Visentin. For his part, Visentin had a nice night, allowing only one goal to earn his 11th win of the season.
The game started rough for the Pirates, who trailed 4:53 into the first period. B-Sens forward Jim O’Brien picked up a rebound left by Visentin off a Shane Prince shot and had the short-side open. The former first-round pick beat the scrambling Visentin under the blocker on a backhander.
For O’Brien, the goal was his 10th of the season, with the secondary assist coming from Andre Petersson.
Then, Binghamton fell apart.
At 15:09 of the opening period the Pirates tied the game at 1-1. Brown put an end to a chaotic sequence in front of B-Sens goalie Andrew Hammond by sliding a shot underneath the fallen goaltender, also his 10th on the campaign, assisted by Rostislav Klesla.
Only 2:35 later, Portland took the lead for good with the first of four power play tallies following an O’Brien tripping penalty. Defenseman Brandon Gormley unloaded a blast from the blue line which beat a screened Hammond, tipped in by Brown for his second of the contest.
Coming out for the second period, the parade of Binghamton miscues continued.
After an ill-advised hooking penalty on B-Sens forward Buddy Robinson to start the period, Portland stretched the lead to 3-1 at 1:49. Brandon McMillan took a snapshot from the right circle, besting Hammond over his glove.
At 16:34 of the second, Portland scored for the third time on its third power play. Gormley sized up a one-timer from the right circle and let fly, beating Hammond on an almost identical goal from when McMillan scored.
The advantage would balloon to four at 19:17 of the second. Pirates forward Tobias Rieder came down the left wing and put another puck past Hammond from the left circle on a wrist shot, his 15th of the season.
“The power play has been working really well lately,” Edwards said. “We have really good chemistry with our two units. They know exactly what we are trying to do. The guys do a real good job of executing the plan. We’re shooting the puck and they are going in for us.”
That was all for Hammond, who was yanked in favor of Nathan Lawson for the third period after making only nine saves on 14 shots.
With the win, the Pirates move to 17-19-2-7 on the season, now five points behind the Worcester Sharks for fourth place in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division.
Portland will next be in action Friday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.