PORTLAND – Overtime hadn’t been kind to the Portland Pirates in the postseason.
So, Saturday night, Kevin Dineen figured his club was due.
The Pirates had already lost three overtime playoff games.
That made it five straight since the Pirates beat Worcester back in 2000.
That had been the only Pirates playoff overtime win in its last 12 tries, dating back to 1996.
Portland is now just 5-12 in overtime in the postseason.
“I looked at it, we’ve lost three in overtime so far,” said Dineen. “With our team record this year and the way we’ve played, I think you look at the law of averages. It’s got to swing your way somewhere along the line.”
Scoring isn’t exactly Bruno St. Jacques forte. The Pirates defenseman had just six goals in 60 games this season. That was an offensive explosion for the Montreal native. St. Jacques had only nine goals in 11 previous seasons and only two goals in the postseason. So that made Saturday’s thrilling overtime game-winner that much more special.
“I don’t score that often,” he said. “It was a great experience.”
Zenon Konopka had won the faceoff at the right circle and got the puck back to St. Jacques, who wristed it through traffic for the winner just 2:54 into OT.
St. Jacques didn’t even see the puck go in. He didn’t react until after fans and teammates instigated the celebration.
“I couldn’t see it at all,” he said. “There were so many guys up there. It just went through them — a couple sets of legs.”
One constant for the Wolf Pack in the series has been their ability to score on the power play. Eight of the 12 goals for Hartford in the series have come with the man-advantage. That included three power plays Saturday night and two on Sunday.
Portland’s penalty kill, however, came through when it mattered most. Hartford had three power plays in the third period Saturday with the game tied. That included a two-man advantage for 1:35.
“What a big series that was,” said Dineen of being down two men. “Sometimes those almost take your will away. You kill, you kill and you kill, and it’s like it’s never going to end. I really give my guys credit, especially on that five-on-three for a minute-and-a-half.”
Portland ranked 10th in the AHL with an 83.3 percentage on the penalty kill. Hartford’s power play was ranked eighth in the league at 19.2 percent.