Despite scoring more than two goals in a game for the first time since Feb. 9 and out-shooting the opposition 39-22, the Worcester Sharks saw their losing streak extend to a franchise tying seven games as they were defeated 6-4 by their Atlantic Division rival the Portland Pirates (AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) Thursday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Forwards Travis Oleksuk, James Livingston, and defensemen Konrad Abeltshauser and Rob Davison scored for the Sharks, who are 15 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 23 games left and have not held a lead in the last 420 minutes of hockey play.
"Now we're not getting the saves and that was a big part of our game early on," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Bill Ballou of Telegram.com. "When's the last time we scored four in a game and didn't win?"
Even though the Sharks out-shot the Pirates 20-7 and had five power play opportunities, including a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time, the Sharks found themselves trailing 2-1 at the end of the first period. After the Sharks failed to convert on an early power play opportunity, Pirates forward Brett Hextall beat Sharks rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick with a slap shot from on top of the right face-off circle for his ninth goal of the season at 5:13. The goal came on the Pirates' first shot attempt.
Oleksuk tied the game at 8:05 with his 11th goal of the season when he redirected linemate Yanni Gourde's backhanded pass from inside the right face-off circle past Pirates goaltender Mark Visentin. Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty was credited with the secondary assist.
The Pirates regained their one goal lead at 11:26 when forward Brendan Shinnimin found a rebound on top of the goal crease and fired a backhanded shot into an open net for his seventh goal of the season.
Near midway of the second period, Sharks defenseman Nick Petrecki was assessed a four-minute double minor for high sticking. At 12:28, the Pirates extended their lead to 3-1 when forward Tobias Rieder ripped the puck past Grosenick from the left hash mark in the slot for a power play goal, his 19th goal of the season.
"That was the game there," said Sommer. "That penalty, (Petrecki) couldn't just take a hit. He had to get the stick up."
Abeltshauser pulled the Sharks to within a goal at 15:18 when he finished off a 2-on-1 rush with Gourde by burying home a rebound from on top of the crease for a shorthanded goal, his fourth goal of the season. Gourde was credited with the lone assist.
Just 11-seconds later, the Pirates regained their two goal lead when forward Andy Miele beat Grosenick with a quick snap shot from near the face-off dot of the right circle for a power play goal, his 22nd goal of the season. Shinnimin pushed the lead to 5-2 at 17:14 when he found a loose puck between the hash marks in the slot and fired the puck past Grosenick for his second goal of the game and eighth goal of the season.
Inside the opening five minutes of the third period, the Sharks scored two times to the cut the Pirates lead to 5-4. Just 64-seconds into the period, forward James Livingston got positioning in front and redirected Doherty's wrist shot from the right point past Visentin for his fourth goal of the season and first goal in his last 33 games. Sharks forward Marek Viedensky was credited with secondary assist on the goal, which was Livingston's first since Nov. 29, 2013.
Sharks captain Rob Davison, who tried to spark the team by dropping the gloves with Pirates forward Phil Lane at 13:52 of the second period, pulled the Sharks to within a goal at 4:29 when he played the puck off the left half wall and ripped a slap shot from just inside the left face-off circle past Visentin for his second goal of the season. Sharks forwards Brodie Reid and Livingston were credited with the assists.
With Grosenick pulled for the extra attacker inside the final 90-seconds of the period, Rieder fired the puck into the empty net at 19:31 for his second goal of the game, 20th goal of the season, to seal a 6-4 Pirates win.
NOTES... Final shots on goal were 39-22 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 11-10-0 with a 2.61 goals-against-average and .905 save percentage... Gourde had a game high six shots on goal... The Sharks have been outscored 35-10 during their seven game losing streak and have scored 10 goals on 238 shots... The Sharks line of Lane Scheidl, Chad Rau and Eriah Hayes was a combined minus-six as each player finished minus-two... Sharks forward Bracken Kearns, who was reassigned by San Jose on Feb. 25, played in his first game for the Sharks since Dec. 28, 2012... Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson was recalled to San Jose on Feb. 25... Sharks rookie forward Rylan Schwartz missed his first game of the season as he was a healthy scratch... The Sharks finished the month of February with a 2-8-0-0 record... This was the ninth of 12 meetings between the Sharks and Pirates this season... The Sharks are 5-4-0-0 against the Pirates, 11-15-3-0 on the road and 23-26-3-1 with 50 points overall... The Sharks are back in action Saturday night (March 1) as they travel to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7pm/et.
1. Brendan Shinnimin - Pirates (2-0-2)
2. Tobias Rieder - Pirates (2-1-3)
3. Rostislav Klesla - Pirates (0-2-2)
Tarasov / Kearns / Hamilton (A)
Gourde / Oleksuk / DaSilva (A)
Scheidl / Rau / Hayes
Reid/ Viedensky / Livingston
Doherty / Abeltshauser
Petrecki / DeMelo
Comrie / Davison (C)