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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Pirates were perfect in three home outings last week, posting a pair of victories over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Friday and Saturday) and another against the Atlantic Division leading Manchester Monarchs (Tuesday). The trio of victories allowed Portland to climb into fourth in the Division standings with a 24-16-5-2 record.

The action began on Tuesday as Jhonas Enroth stopped four of five attempts in the shootout with support of goals by Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mark Mancari as the Pirates beat the Manchester Monarchs 3-2 at the CCCC.

Brad Larsen had a goal and an assist in regulation for the Pirates while Travis Turnbull netted the other goal as Portland improved to 22-16-5-2 with their third straight shootout victory. Manchester lead the game 1-0 after one before the Pirates surged into the lead in the second half of the middle period as Larsen and Turnbull each scored in a span of 2:19 seconds to give the home side the lead.

Manchester got things back on even terms with a five-on-three goal in the final three minutes of the second. The two teams played through the third and overtime without coming to a decision and forcing a shootout.

Enroth was front and center again on Friday going perfect on all five attempts in the shootout and for the second straight game Mancari supplied the winner to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the CCCC. Mancari forced overtime by scoring with one second remaining in regulation with the Pirates enjoying a six-on-three man-power advantage.

Larsen netted the other goal for Portland, who posted their fourth consecutive shootout victory to improve to 23-16-5-2 on the season. All the first period scoring came in a span of 90 seconds. Bridgeport opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal 12 minutes into the game only to see Larsen, with his 200th career AHL point, even the count with a power-play score before the penalty expired to even the game at one after one.

Just 64 seconds into the second period Tyler Ennis was awarded a penalty shot but he was stopped by Sound Tigers goalie Scott Munroe to keep things even heading into the third. The Monarchs struck on the power play with just under four minutes left in regulation to give the Sound Tigers the lead before Mancari’s last-second heroics.

The Pirates completed the week on Saturday as Derek Whitmore and Jeff Cowan scored first period goals to lead to a narrow 2-1 win over the Sound Tigers played in front of 6,200 at the CCCC.

The victory was the Pirates third straight and completed a weekend sweep of the Sound Tigers. Portland moved to 24-16-5-2 with the win. The Pirates struck early in the game, only 1:19 in as Whitmore got the ball rolling for a 1-0 advantage. Cowan capped the period with a power-play goal with 64 seconds left in the opening 20 minutes to give Portland a 2-0 lead after one. Cowan’s goal extended the Pirates streak of consecutive games with a power-play goal to 13. The 2-0 advantage stood until midway through the third period when the Sound Tigers got on the board to set up a close finish.

This Week:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 vs. Manchester (CCCC), 11 a.m.
    * Heading into this week’s action, Manchester led the Atlantic Division with a 29-14-2-5 record
    * The game marks the sixth of 10 between the two teams this season. The Pirates are 3-1-1-0 in the five previous games
    * Goaltender Jonathan Bernier was named the Reebok AHL Player-of-the-Week Monday after going 2-0-0-1 and completing the week with back-to-back shutouts (he now leads the League with six)
    * Rookie forward Corey Elkins leads the Monarchs in scoring (and is third among AHL rookies) with 35 points in 46 games

Friday, February 5, 2010 @ Providence Bruins (Dunkin’ Donuts Center), 7:05 p.m.
    * Heading into this week’s action, Providence sat seventh in the Atlantic Division with a 23-23-3-0 record
    * The Bruins are one of only three teams in the AHL not to have suffered a shootout loss this season
    * Portland has a 2-2-0-1 record against the Bruins, which includes a 4-0 win in their last meeting January 3rd in Providence
    * All-Star Mikko Lehtonen leads the Bruins in scoring with 37 points in 49 games

Saturday, February 6, 2010 @ Lowell Devils (Tsongas Arena), 7 p.m.
    * Heading into this week’s action, Lowell stood tied for second in the Atlantic Division with a 29-17-3-1 record
    * The Devils are winners of their last two games and have posted victories in seven of their last 10 games
    * The Pirates are 3-3 against the Devils so far this season
    * Ben Walter leads Lowell in scoring with 33 points in 48 games

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