GLENDALE – The Portland Pirates are two-thirds of the way to completing what they hope will be a remarkable comeback in their first-round Calder Cup Playoffs series against the Manchester Monarchs.
Portland, which is in its fourth and final season as the Coyotes’ top affiliate in the American Hockey League, is tied at two games apiece with Manchester, the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Game 5 of the best-of-five series – which the Monarchs led 2-0 – is Saturday at Manchester at 4 p.m. (Arizona time).
|Photo by Portland Pirates. |
"We’re expecting them to play their best game," Pirates General Manager/Head Coach Ray Edwards said. "They’re back at home and they’ve lost two games in a row. We have to expect them to be at their very best and that’s going to force us to play our best game. We’ve already put the last two games behind us and are focused solely on Game 5."
Goalie Louis Domingue, who played seven games for the Coyotes in 2014-15, has helped key the turnaround for Portland. Domingue started and won Game 3 and Game 4. In those games, he stopped 59 of 61 shots including all 28 he faced in a 5-0 win on Thursday.
"He’s been real solid this whole series and I thought he was really good last night," Edwards said Friday. "We were a little loose and a little sloppy in the first period and he was there for us when we needed him to be."
The Pirates are scoring goals by committee in this series. Ten players have lit the lamp at least once. On Thursday, Coyotes first-round draft pick Brendan Perlini joined in the fun by netting his first pro goal in his third pro game.
Portland has scored 12 goals in the first four games of the series and is hoping to match or surpass that three goals/per game average again on Saturday; the Pirates are 32-0-2-0 when scoring three or more goals this season.
Manchester, which is the AHL affiliate of the LA Kings, is a tough team to beat on home ice. In 40 games, including the playoffs, the Monarchs have posted a 32-7-1-0 record at home this season.
"This is the first time their backs are up against the wall in this series so we're expecting to play a desperate team in a hostile environment on Saturday," Edwards said. “It will be a challenge.”