Just 24-hours after being embarrassed by the Manchester Monarchs on home ice at the DCU Center in a 7-2 loss, the Worcester Sharks responded with a 4-1 win over their Atlantic Division rivals the Portland Pirates for their first home win since January 11. Alex Stalock made 36 saves for his 14th win of the season while Danny Groulx, Bracken Kearns, Jimmy Bonneau and Matt Tennyson scored for the Sharks, who now trail the Connecticut Whale by three points for the eighth seed in the AHL Eastern Conference and the Providence Bruins by 12 points for the Atlantic Division lead.
Groulx put the Sharks up 1-0 at 13:15 of the first period with his third goal of the season off a wicked shot from the left side wall that went in off the post after deflecting off of the shoulder of Pirates goaltender Mike Lee. Tennyson and Sharks rookie Travis Oleksuk were credited with the assists on the goal.
10-seconds after Bonneau was assessed a two-minute penalty for interference, Kearns put the Sharks up 2-0 by scoring what held up as the game-winning-goal on a shorthanded breakaway at 15:25 for his 13th goal of the season. Sharks captain John McCarthy was credited with the lone assist on the goal, which was the AHL leading 12th shorthanded goal allowed by the Pirates this season.
Upon stepping out of the penalty box at the conclusion of his penalty, Bonneau found the puck right in front of him and skated down the left side into the Pirates zone on a 2-on-1 rush with Jon Matsumoto. With Matsumoto in front, Bonneau ripped a shot past the blocker of Lee for his first goal of the season at 17:24 to put the Sharks up 3-0.
After allowing three goals on 13 shots, the Pirates pulled Lee at the start of the second period for backup goaltender Louie Domingue, who was making his AHL debut. Later in the period, Tennyson pushed the Sharks lead to 4-0 at 16:52 with his fifth goal of the season, and second goal in as many days, off a rocket of a shot from the face-off dot inside the right circle. James Livingston and Marek Viedensky were credited with the assists.
Pirates right winger Phil Lane spoiled Stalock's shutout bid with his fifth goal of the season at 4:47 of the third period off a quick snap shot from in the left slot after circling behind Stalock's net.
NOTES... Shots were 37-36 in favor of the Pirates... The Sharks went 0-for-6 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill... Stalock is now one win from tying Thomas Greiss for the most wins in Worcester Sharks franchise history (74) and is now 14-11-3 with a 2.55 goals-against-average and .914 save percentage...The Sharks wore specialty jerseys to benefit the Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts... Viedensky and Adam Comrie wore jersey numbers 40 and 24 respectively as the jerseys had been ordered a couple months ago when Viedensky was with the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL and Comrie was with the Reading Royals... Sena Acolatse (inj), Mike Brennan (inj), Curt Gogol (scr), Yanni Gourde (scr), Tommy Grant (scr) and Nick Petrecki (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the 10th of 12 meetings between the teams this season... The Sharks are 4-5-0-1 against the Pirates this season, 11-10-1-4 against the Atlantic Division, 9-10-1-3 at the DCU Center and 24-21-1-5 with 54 points overall.
1. Jimmy Bonneau - Sharks (1-0-1)
2. Bracken Kearns - Sharks (1-0-1, GWG)
3. Alex Stalock - Sharks (36 saves, Win)