Colin Stuart capitalized on a five-on-three power play with 1:28 remaining and Jeff Jakaitis made 45 saves in his Pirates debut as Portland defeated the Providence Bruins 5-4 in an American Hockey League game played tonight in front of a sellout crowd of 6,864 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Luke Adam, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Paul Byron, and Dennis McCauley also scored for the Pirates. With his 43rd assist, Gragnani broke his own franchise record set back during the 2008-09 season for assists by a defenseman in a season. Portland improved their record to 40-17-5-2 with their sixth straight win, and raised their American Hockey League best home record to 23-4-4-1.
Maxime Sauve, Jeremy Reich, Trent Whitfield, and Zach Hamill each registered goals for Providence as their four-game winning streak came to an end. The Bruins record fell to 30-31-3-2 and on the season.
Following Sauve’s tip-in goal at 9:07 of the first period, Portland quickly struck with Adam racing down ice following the ensuing faceoff, beating Providence goaltender Anton Khudobin only eight seconds later to tie the game at one.
Gragnani capped off the first period scoring with his 10th of the season at the 12:13 mark to give the hosts a one-goal lead heading into the second period. Three minutes into the second, Reich tied the game again on a power-play goal, and the score would remain the same until the later stages of the period. McCauley sent home his 10th of the season to give Portland a 3-2 lead at 17:33, only to have Whitfield give the game its third tie with a shorthanded goal a minute later. The seesaw battle continued in the third when Byron gave Portland their third lead of the game halfway through the final period, and Hamill evened the score for a fourth time three minutes later at 13:27. Two Providence penalties late in the period led to Stuart’s goal, sending the Pirates to victory.
The Bruins out-shot the Pirates 49-25 as Jakaitis improved his record to 2-2-0. Khudobin took his first loss in a Providence uniform in five starts as his overall record dropped to 23-13-1.
The Allied Home Mortgage Three Stars of the game were: 1. Byron, 2. Stuart and 3. Jakaitis.
First-place in the Atlantic Division will be on the line tomorrow (Sunday) when the Manchester Monarchs visit for a 4 p.m. start. The first 4,000 fans into the game will receive a free Pirates hat courtesy of Time Warner Cable. Bring your skates and stick around after the game to skate with your favorite members of the Pirates presented by Mercy Hospital and Steele Hill Resorts.