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Friday, May 6, 2011

Senators Shut Out Pirates, Win Series 4-2

Home cooking went sour again for the Pirates, as their season ended with a thud, losing 3-0 to the Binghamton Senators in a series-ending game 6. The Pirates failed to win a game at home in the series, and it cost them as a promising season came to a crashing halt. Jim O'Brien scored
25 seconds in, Zack Smith scored another goal in the series and Kaspars Daugavins scored an empty-netter for the Senators, who now head to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The excitement of the Pirates return to Portland to fight another day didn't last long in game 6, as Jim O'Brien scored on a broken play just 25 seconds into the game. Jared Cowen and Kaspars Daugavins picked up assists as the Pirates were in a very early hole in a must-win game. The Pirates would hold an 11-6 shot advantage after one period, but Senators goalie Robin Lehner was in tip-top shape in this one.

The Pirates had to weather an early storm in the second period, as Jeff Dimmen took a penalty less than three minutes in. Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth had to make a handful of tough saves on the penalty kill as the Senators looked to extend their slim lead. Enroth stood strong, however, and the Pirates were still standing. Portland looked to get the equalizer eight minutes in, but the goal was waved off as Daugavins was called for a hooking penalty. In the post-game press conference, Pirates coach Kevin Dineen said it was the right call, as the Senators touched the puck before Portland put in in the net. It was deflating for a team struggling to solve a hot goalie. What was more deflating was when the Pirates went on a 5-on-3 40 seconds later, and couldn't capitalize on the advantage. It may have been a turning point in the game, as the Pirates best chance to put one past Lehner was not good enough.

The Senators would go on the power play midway through the period, as Igor Gongalsky was called for delay of game for knocking the net out of place. Zack Smith took advantage of the power play halfway through, lighting the lamp as he beat Enroth up high on a pass from Ryan Keller. Mike Hoffman also picked up an assist on the goal. After two periods it was Binghamton with a 2-0 lead, and the Pirates with their backs against the wall.

The Pirates couldn't seem to put together a sustained attack in the game, with an advantage in shots on goal misleading. Lehner was the best player on the ice in game 6, and maybe for the whole series, finishing with 36 saves and causing the Pirates to wonder what could have been.

The players were emotional after the game, wondering where a season where everything was going right went wrong. Both Dineen and the players were frustrated that they couldn't take advantage of home-ice advantage in the series. A team that was near impossible to beat at home in the regular season, and 3-0 in the first round, was 0-fer for this series, and it all boiled over in the deciding game 6, when they failed to even score.

While things look bad right now, in time the team will have a chance to look back at this season and see all the positives. For Dineen, it might be his last season in Portland, as his name will surely be near the tops of many NHL team's lists for open head coaching positions.

Coach Kevin Dineen

Pirates Luke Adam

Pirates Derek Whitmore


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