(portlandpirates.com) — The Portland Pirates clinched a Calder Cup Playoff spot in style, defeating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-1, Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Chris Brown led the way with a three-point night for the Pirates.
Pirates starting goaltender Mark Visentin had to be strong early, as the Sound Tigers jumped out to a 9-0 shots advantage. It was not until Blair Riley was sent to the box for a hooking call at 9:29 that the Pirates got their first shot on goal. The shot came just over 11 minutes into the first period, but the Pirates could not capitalize on the power play.
Portland went back to the power play about a minute after the first one expired. Once again, they only mustered one shot on Bridgeport starter Rick DiPietro, and fail to score. The Sound Tigers ended the scoreless period with a 11-4 advantage in shots.
The Pirates had a better start to the second period, jumping out to a 5-2 advantage in shots. Portland went back to work on the power play early in the second, thanks to a cross-checking call to Matt Donovan just 38 seconds into the period. DiPietro and the Sound Tigers’ penalty kill once again stymied the Pirates.
DiPietro followed the strong penalty kill with a pair of nice stops on Lucas Lessio, robbing the Pirates forward on an initial shot and rebound chance in front of the net. The Sound Tigers were unable to convert on a pair of power-play chances of their own in the second.
Evan Brophey put the Pirates on the board just 58 seconds into the third. Brophey took a pass from Brown and snuck in behind the Sound Tigers defense, beating DiPietro with a backhand shot over his shoulder.
The Sound Tigers answered at the 7:02 mark, when Ryan Strome sent a low shot through a screen to beat Visentin five-hole and tie the game at 1-1.
After a loose puck made its way out of the Pirates zone, Brown picked it up for 2-on-1 chance, electing to shoot and beating DiPietro low on his blocker side.
Brown put an exclamation point on his night and sealed the victory for the Pirates with an empty-net goal at 19:45. The goal was Brown’s team leading 29th of the season.
The Pirates improve to 40-29-3-2, while Mark Visentin improves to 15-12-1. With the win, the Pirates clinched a playoff berth for the 15th time in team history, and first time since 2010-11.