They found that win seven days ago with a third-period comeback against Worcester to become the last team into the 16-team Calder Cup playoffs. They found it again Sunday, and will play at least one more playoff game.

Francis Wathier scored with 2.9 seconds remaining to give the Pirates a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Manchester in Game 3 of the Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday at the Cross Insurance Arena. The win is Portland’s first against the Monarchs in the postseason (1-6 all-time).

“You play hockey for those moments,” Wathier said. “I’m 30 years old. I’ve been playing for 10 years and there’s never something that prepares you for something like that no matter how many times it happens. It’s enjoyable. That’s what you play it for.”

Looking like a game destined for overtime, Brendan Shinnimin won a puck battle along the far-side boards and found Phil Lane in front. Lane tapped the puck to Wathier and the 10-year veteran backhanded a shot over the far-side shoulder of Manchester goalie Jean-Francois Berube to send the announced crowd of 2,660 into an uproar.

“I’ve been practicing those little plays around the net and hadn’t had the opportunity to bury one in the last couple games like that,” Wathier said. “I kept my poise and made sure that went in the net. Definitely a big goal for this time.”

Game 4 is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Portland.

“We seem to be able to get it done when our backs are against the wall,” Portland’s Eric Selleck said. “It’s a little stepping stone for us to carry on through the series. It’s an exciting win and we’re happy to get it.”

Through the first two games of the series, the Pirates hadn’t led. Lane changed that with an opportune deflection in the slot at 14:32 of the opening period.

Lane got a stick on a shot from Klas Dahlbeck at the blue line, redirecting past Berube to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Portland trailed for all but 20 seconds in Game 2.

The Pirates were whistled for five penalties in the first period, including the final three. They took successive penalties in the final two minutes of the frame, giving the Monarchs a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24.

Manchester cashed in. With Jordan Szwarz in the box for high-sticking and Dylan Reese serving a delay-of-game penalty after Portland goaltender Louis Domingue cleared the puck over the glass, Manchester’s Michael Mersch netted the equalizer with 25 seconds remaining in the first period.

It was the only power-play goal Manchester could muster, finishing 1-for-6 with the man advantage.

“Those penalty killers — Francis, Lane, (Jordan) Szwarz, (Tyler) Gaudet, Shinnimin and Louis — to take that many penalties and find a way to win is huge,” Portland coach Ray Edwards said. “Give them a lot of credit.”

The Monarchs grabbed their first lead of the contest at 5:28 of the second period when Sean Backman’s rebound came out to Jordan Weal in front. Weal was all alone and he snuck a shot underneath the crossbar for his series-leading fourth goal of the playoffs.

Portland responded in similar fashion as Selleck jumped on a rebound and tied the game, 2-2, at 12:50 of the second period. Lucas Lessio fired a shot on Berube from the top of the right circle that kicked off his pad and out to Selleck for his first goal of the playoffs.

“Now there’s hope,” Selleck said. “We had our backs against the wall. Every game’s a big game and now we’ve got this one. We believe we can win and we believe in this team. That’s a huge win for us and we’re going to carry it on to Thursday.”

Domingue finished with 21 saves and Berube stopped 30.


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