By Daniel Grosso
Hartford, CT, March 23, 2012 – The Whale were defeated by the Portland Pirates, 4-1, Friday night at the XL Center. Portland winger Brett Sterling netted the winning goal, while goaltender Peter Mannino kept Connecticut guessing all night, saving 29 of 30 shots faced.
Whale goaltender Chad Johnson’s line wasn’t as strong as he has grown accustomed to this last month. Johnson surrendered four goals on 27 Portland shots.
“I feel good, I feel like I’m in good position all the time making good saves and then [the puck] just doesn’t go where you want,” Johnson said. “I try to make a save and put it in a good spot and there’s a guy right there.”
The Whale fell victim to poor puck bounces on the evening, as Portland’s goals were all products of rebounds, turnovers and deflections.
“Sometimes when bounces don’t go your way you got to find a way to get through that,” Captain Wade Redden said. “Tonight we didn’t do enough good things to get the win.”
Redden caught a break on a power play in the third period, scoring the lone goal for Connecticut on the night.
Portland opened the scoring with a goal from winger Ashton Rome at the 4:52 mark of the first period. Rome scored his ninth goal of the season, hammering a rebound past Johnson, after the Whale goaltender saved a shot from Jordan Szwarz.
Johnson and the Whale held Portland in check for the remainder of the first period, taking a 1-0 deficit into the first intermission.
Portland came out and extended their lead in the second period. Brett Sterling stole the puck off the stick of the Whale’s Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and found himself with a short breakaway opportunity. Johnson saved the initial opportunity, but Sterling hit home his own rebound, for his 26th goal of the season, putting Portland up 2-0 at the 7:09 mark of the second.
Portland would extend its lead shortly after, scoring just 1:13 later off the stick of Ethan Werek. Werek scored his eighth goal of the season, scoring on a wrist-shot from the corner that deflected off of Whale defenseman Pavel Valentenko. Brett MacLean and David Rundblad recorded assists on the goal.
The Pirates maintained their lead for the remainder of the period, and sent the Whale into the intermission trailing 3-0.
Newly-signed winger Andrew Yogan came close for the Whale at the beginning of the third period, but had his open shot at an empty not blocked by Mark Louis in a diving attempt to preserve Portland’s shutout.
Portland would then extend its lead halfway through the third period. Alexandre Bolduc stole a Kris Newbury pass and took the puck down the ice all by himself on the break. Bolduc put the puck through Johnson’s pads, notching his third goal of the season and putting the Pirates up 4-0.
Connecticut finally got on the board with 8:05 remaining in the third period. Redden scored on the Whale’s fourth power play of the night, blasting a shot from the point past Mannino. Redden’s third goal of the season came off a faceoff win from Audy-Marchessault to Casey Wellman, who passed the puck out to Redden on the point.
Connecticut returns to action on Saturday night at 7p.m. when they take on the Providence Bruins in Hartford. The Whale will look to snap a 3-game losing streak to Providence after starting the season 3-0 against their Rhode Island rivals.
Tickets to all 2011-12 Whale home games are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.
College students can get discounted tickets to Whale weekday games with the Whale’s “Ditch the Dorms” deal. For Monday through Friday home games, students who show a valid student ID at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center can get $2 off Upper Level tickets and $5 off Lower Level seats.
Save on your tickets, and get the best seats, with a ticket plan for the Whale’s 2011-12 AHL campaign, which are on sale now. For information on season seats, mini plans and great group discounts, visit www.ctwhale.com, or call the CT Whale ticket office at (860) 728-3366 to talk with an account executive today.
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Portland Pirates 4 at Connecticut Whale 1
Friday, March 23, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Portland 1 2 1 – 4
Connecticut 0 0 1 – 1
1st Period-1, Portland, Rome 9 (Szwarz), 4:52. Penalties-Audy-Marchessault Ct (slashing), 10:25; Oystrick Por (high-sticking), 16:31.
2nd Period-2, Portland, Sterling 26 7:09. 3, Portland, Werek 8 (MacLean, Rundblad), 8:22. Penalties-Sterling Por (interference), 9:03.
3rd Period-4, Portland, Bolduc 3 9:32. 5, Connecticut, Redden 3 (Wellman, Audy-Marchessault), 11:55 (PP). Penalties-Bolduc Por (interference), 5:36; Louis Por (roughing, roughing), 8:27; Klassen Ct (boarding, roughing), 8:27; Oystrick Por (interference), 11:50.
Shots on Goal-Portland 11-8-8-27. Connecticut 9-10-11-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 1; Connecticut 1 / 4.
Goalies-Portland, Mannino 7-7-1 (30 shots-29 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 21-15-5 (27 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86).
Linesmen-Kevin Redding (16), Derek Wahl (46).