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Whitmore’s heroics harpoon Whale

Derek Whitmore tied the game with 7:40 left in regulation, then potted the game-winner with 12:04 gone in overtime as Portland grabbed a 2-0 series lead with a 3-2 victory over Connecticut at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Whale look to get in the win column when the series resumes in Hartford on Sunday evening.

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The Pirates’ Matt Ellis opened the scoring 5:02 into the game, but Connecticut took its first lead of the series when Francis Lemieux and John Mitchell scored 76 seconds apart late in the first period.

The Whale held the 2-1 lead into the third, but Whitmore scored unassisted at 12:20 to tie the score.

In overtime, Whitmore joined Brian Roloff on a 2-on-1 break, took a pass from the rookie forward and buried a shot behind Dov Grumet-Morris.

After Connecticut took 16 shots in the first period, Portland allowed just nine shots the rest of the way. David Leggio finished with 23 saves in the win; Grumet-Morris stopped 33 of 36 shots in defeat.

The Whale franchise has now lost seven consecutive road playoff games, and six straight playoff visits to Portland.