|Derek Whitmore with a HUGE game for the Pirates (Photo Jason Gendron/MESN)|
The game started out well for the Pirates, as Matt Ellis scored five minutes in. Connecticut had just killed off a penalty, but couldn't get a clear, and Ellis made them pay. His goal was assisted by Whitmore and Corey Tropp. At that point, the Whale took over.
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Francis Lemieux scored on a breakaway with under five minutes to go to tie it. After a scrum in front of the Portland net, Colin Stuart would go to the penalty box for roughing. The Whale took advantage of the power play, as John Mitchell got an unassisted goal to give Connecticut the lead. It was 2-1 Whale at the end of the first period, as they outshot Portland 16-8.
Physical play picked up in the second period, as offenses went cold. Portland got four chances on the power play in the period, and squandered every one of them. The Pirates seemed to look sluggish, and were probably lucky to be down only one goal after two periods. The Pirates outshot the Whale 7-3 in the period, but that was mostly due to the disparity in penalty box time.
The Crowd at the Civic Center came to life in the third period, trying to energize the home team. The Pirates battered Whale goalie Dov Grumet-Morris with quality shots, but the Dov was up to the task. He made a huge stop on a Portland power play midway through the period, and again when he kick-saved a shot by Jeff Dimmen a few minutes later.
Whitmore finally got through when Grumet-Morris was knocked off-balance and an opening was created. The crowd would not quiet as momentum had swung, and overtime was imminent. The Pirates outshot the Whale by a whopping 16-2 margin in the third period, as they had to find some way to get one past Dov.
Three minutes into overtime it looked like the Whale would even the series. Pirates goalie Dave Leggio had to make a sprawling save on his back, hoping the puck was underneath him. For the sake of Pirates fans, it was. The Whale again had a close call, as Dale Weise fired away at Leggio from close range, only to be denied, as was his rebound shot.
There would be no such break for Grumet-Morris, as he was caught with a 2-on-1 disadvantage coming at him, as Brian Roloff fed Whitmore with a perfect pass for the game winner.
Whitmore was named the #1 star after tallying 2 goals and an assist. Matt Ellis was the #2 star scoring the opening goal, and keeping the Pirates afloat early. Grumet-Morris was the #3 star after stopping 33 of 36 shots.
The Pirates hold a 2-0 series lead as the Atlantic Division Semifinals move to Hartford tomorrow night. If the first two games are any indication, we are in for a long, hard-fought series.
Game Note: Long-time Pirates videographer Dale Darling was inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony. Darling is the 15th member inducted into the Hall after working in Maine hockey for the last 33 years. He was presented with a #33 Pirates uniform with his name on it.
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Portland Pirates Forward Derek Whitmore
Portland Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen