PORTLAND — Francis Wathier had the golden touch, and Louis Domingue the golden pads.

Buoyed by Domingue’s 28-save shutout, Wathier’s pair of goals and a lock-down penalty-kill unit, the No. 8 Portland Pirates stayed alive again Thursday, earning a 5-0 win over the top-seeded Manchester Monarchs in Game 4 of the teams’ best-of-5 AHL Eastern final quarterfinal series at Cross Insurance Arena.

The teams will play a deciding Game 5 Saturday in Manchester at 7 p.m.

“Hopefully we can build off this momentum and find a way,” Edwards said.

Wathier has been an unlikely hero for the Pirates the past two games. After scoring only five goals in 68 regular-season games, the journeyman forward potted the winner in Game 3 with the Pirates trailing two games to none in the series. He rolled into Game 4 and netted the first goal of the game Thursday, with, of course, less than a minute to play in the first period. He added another in the third after stepping out of the penalty box.

“This is his time of year,” Edwards said. “He works extremely hard on his game and you can tell there’s a different jump in his step this time of year. He’s been the one stirring the drink for us these past couple games.”

“I’m just blessed,” Wathier said. “Blessed with the opportunity to play, blessed scoring goals that matter, and just very lucky. You work so hard all your life, and in practices and stuff, and when you do well like this, it makes yourself keep going and want to try harder. That’s why we play this sport.”

The playoffs have showcased a handful of Pirates on offense. Wathier’s goal marked the fist time a player had scored a second goal in the playoffs for Portland. The Pirates have now scored 12 goals in four games, and 10 players have accounted for at least one each.

“That’s been us all year,” Edwards said. “We don’t have a lot of success all year if everyone’s not contributing. That’s one of the things I said to the group. I told them whether it was a blocked shot, or getting the puck out, or getting the puck deep, or winning a face-off, we had everyone throw their hand in the mix. Our group has to do that to have success.”

The Pirates are now also 32-0-2-0 when scoring at least three goals this season.

“We seem to do OK when we score three,” Edwards deadpanned.

Domingue, meanwhile, has been stellar since relieving Mike McKenna in Game 2, allowing five goals on 87 shots, including his 28-save shutout Thursday.

“Even before the game, we had a good feeling,” Domingue said. “We were loose. We wanted to come in and put pressure on them for the next game like was on us last week.”

“He was just steady,” Edwards said. “He was calm, cool and collected in there. First period, I thought we were a little sloppy with the puck and he was there for us. He gave us a calmness which we need.”

Portland weathered an early storm from Manchester, and Domingue overcame a couple of early baubles while playing the puck to make 12 first-period saves, including six on the penalty-kill.

“The pressure wasn’t on us,” Domingue said. “We were loose, we were playing loose, doing the right things and we saw results.”

The Pirates’ patience and persistence paid off late in the first when Wathier netted the first goal of the game with 55 seconds to play in the frame. Starting on the top line after scoring the winner in Game 3, Wathier coasted into the zone as the third man in as Lucas Lessio drove down the left boards. Lessio wrapped the puck to Selleck behind the cage, and Selleck whipped the puck in front to Wathier. With one touch, Wathier tucked the puck past keeper Jean-Francois Berube for the goal and a 1-0 Portland lead.

“(That) was just a great pass by (Selleck),” Wathier said. “He and I have been playing together for a long time this year. He’s been giving me great passes all year and to capitalize, it’s huge.”

Another outstanding penalty kill in the second frame begat another shift in momentum — courtesy a well-timed timeout — and another Pirates goal. This time, a blast from Brandon Gormley at the point on a feed from Henrick Samuelsson found its way past Berube for a 2-0 Portland advantage.

The Pirates ran their lead to 3-0 on a 5-on-3 advantage at 13:11 when Patrick McNeill pounded home his first of the playoffs. Gormley and Samuelsson earned assists.

Portland killed off another Manchester man-advantage straddling the second and third periods to maintain its stranglehold on the contest into the final frame, and fresh out of the box, Wathier struck again, taking a feed from Jordan Szwarz and lofting what appeared to be an innocent shot toward the cage. Berube missed it and Portland went up 4-0.

“Three-nothing to 4-0, it’s a big goal and it put the nail in the coffin a little bit more and creates more doubt for them that they can’t come back,” Wathier said.

The teams traded unsuccessful power play chances in the third before Brendan Perlini netted his first professional goal at 18:41 to cap the scoring.


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