Dustin Penner tied a Pirates franchise record with four goals to lead Portland to a 7-4 win over Hartford on Wednesday night.
The win moved the Pirates two points ahead of the Wolf Pack atop the AHL’s Atlantic Division standings. Portland has won eight of its last nine games.
After a sluggish start that saw the two teams combine for one shot on goal in the first eight minutes of the game, it was Hartford that struck first, with Colby Genoway and Joe Rullier giving the host Pack a 2-0 lead.
But Portland responded quickly and often, potting four goals in 3:25 spanning the first and second periods. Penner cut the deficit to 2-1 in the final minute of the first, and Zenon Konopka, Tim Brent and Penner again found the net to give the Pirates a 4-2 lead and chase goaltender Chris Holt just 2:56 into the second.
Ryan Shannon, the RBK Hockey/AHL Rookie of the Month for October, dashed the Wolf Pack’s comeback hopes in the third. Down by a goal, Hartford was working on a 5-on-3 power play when Shannon chipped the puck out of the zone, beat his man down the boards and fired a shot past Bernd Bruckler for his eighth goal of the season, making it 5-3.
Penner would score twice more in the third period to become the fifth Pirates player ever to score four goals in a game, and the first since Graham Mink on Mar. 16, 2002.
Penner added an assist to finish with five points, Shannon wound up with a goal and two assists and Konopka tallied a goal and an assist for Portland.
The victory made for a sweet homecoming for Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, the former fan favorite and team captain of the Hartford Whalers.
HAMILTON 2, BINGHAMTON 1
Yann Danis made 33 saves in his first AHL appearance of the season, backstopping Hamilton to a 2-1 win over Binghamton at Copps Coliseum.
Danis, 2-0-0 with a shutout in three NHL appearances with the Montreal Canadiens this season, made nine saves in the first period, 10 in the second and 14 in the third.
Maxim Lapierre and Peter Vandermeer scored for the Bulldogs, who won for just the second time in nine home games this season (2-6-0-1).
Charlie Stephens scored the only goal for the Senators, who fell to 1-7-1-1 overall.
HOUSTON 2, OMAHA 1
Nineteen-year-old Roman Voloshenko recorded a goal and an assist to lead Houston to a 2-1 win over Omaha at the Toyota Center on Wednesday.
Voloshenko scored his 10th goal of the season, tied for the lead among AHL rookies, and assisted on a goal by Erik Westrum, whose 24 points are one off the pace set by Grand Rapids’ Jiri Hudler.
Josh Harding made 18 saves as the Aeros beat the Knights for the third time in as many tries. Houston swept a two-game series in Omaha last month, winning both games via shootout.
The teams meet again Friday in Houston.