PORTLAND — With just one game this weekend, the Portland Pirates were setting the tone for the week to come.

The last thing the Pirates wanted to do in their first home game at the Cumberland County Civic Center was to face a week of practice after a loss.

Instead of dwelling on a loss, the Pirates will be enjoying the rewards of a solid game and 3-0 blanking of St. John’s in front of 6,736 Friday.

“Any time you get the lone game of a weekend going into a long week of practice, it’s definitely a positive,” defenseman Mike Stone said. “It’s a long week without that win. Now we can feel good about ourselves going into that week of practice.”

Portland got goals from Chris Brown, Brett Hextall and Brendan Shinnimin while goaltender Chad Johnson was stellar in net for the shutout. The Pirates don’t play again until a game at Worcester next Friday.

“We were in the right spots,” said Stone, who had two assists. “We didn’t play our best, but we got three goals and didn’t give up any. The breaks we’re getting right now are because we’re working hard and we’re just in the right spots.”

Portland had played an 8-7 game with St. John’s earlier in the season, but this time the Pirates produced the kind of defensive game they hope to deliver regularly.

“The difference is the players are buying into the mentality with which we have to play,” said Pirates coach Ray Edwards. “I like the way their buying into that mentality. That’s the way we have to play.”

Portland has now shut out the IceCaps in two straight games. The Pirates blanked them 4-0 the day after that 8-7 overtime loss.

“That’s the way it has to be,” said Stone of his team’s defensive effort. “That’s the way they play up in Phoenix. That’s how we have to play down here. We have to tone down the high scoring games. We have to crack down defensively. Everyone is working hard. Every day in practice we’re working out something in the defensive zone.”

The IceCaps had a steady stream to the penalty box in the first period.That helped lead to Portland’s first goal. Ben Maxwell and Travis Ramsey were both whistled off two seconds apart. While in the midst of their five-on-three, Jason Jaffray was called for cross-checking.

Portland could only muster one shot for much of that man advantage but with Jaffray still in the box,  Brown took a Stone pass and slit the defenders up the middle. He put a deke on St. John’s goalie Eddie Pasquale and buried his second of the year at 8:39.

“That was a big goal,” said Edwards. “If we get out of those three penalties without a goal, we don’t have a lot of momentum going. It was key for us to get that goal there.”

St. John’s had chances later in the period, outshooting the Pirates 10-7.  Eric O’Dell had a rebound chance hit the post on one IceCaps flurry. Johnson finished with 14 saves in the period.

Then in the second, St. John’s got a five-on-three when Alexandre Bolduc and  Stone were each whistled off at 3:56. Johnson was superb making numerous saves to thwart the IceCaps.

“He made some pretty big saves which we had to have,”said Shinnimin. “He didn’t just make the first saves but sometimes he made the second and third saves.”

Johnson finished with 31 stops.

To add insult to injury, Portland took a 2-0 lead with 7:04  left. Hextall fired a shot from along the right boards that caught Pasquale offguard.

“That five-on-three was the turning point of the game,”said Edwards of Portland’s momentum swing. “He made a couple big saves to keep it 1-0.”

Portland made it 3-0 with 15:47 left. Shinnimin redirected a Stone shot from the point.

“He goes to the net,” said Edwards. “He’s in the muck all the time. He’s always around the net. He’s going to score goals like that.”

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