Portland rallies in third to stun Worcester in regular season finale
The Portland Pirates (AHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes) clinched the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference for the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs as they scored three times in the third period to stun the Worcester Sharks 5-4 in front of 6,242 fans at the DCU Center Sunday afternoon
The Sharks, who will host the second seeded Hershey Bears in game one of their best-of-five first round series on April 24 at 7 p.m./et, got two point games from forwards Barclay Goodrow (1-1-2), Chris Tierney (0-2-2) and defenseman Matt Taormina (1-1-2). In addition, the Sharks got goals from forward Travis Oleksuk, defenseman Gus Young, and 34 saves in net from goaltender Aaron Dell.
It didn't take long for the Pirates to strike as forward Christian Dvorak buried home a behind-the-net centering feed just 59-seconds into the game for his first professional goal, which was set up by a turnover behind the net by Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty, whose hockey stick broke on the play.
Oleksuk tied the game at 8:19 with a power play goal, his 10th goal of the season, off a backhanded shot from on top of the crease after Pirates goaltender Louie Domingue stopped Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson's one-timer shot from just inside the top of the left faceoff circle. Sharks defenseman Matt Taormina had the secondary assist.
Taormina put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 10:05 with a slap shot from the center point (on the logo) that beat Domingue through the wickets for Taormina's 11th goal of the season. Tierney and Goodrow were credited with the assists.
Goodrow extended the lead to 3-1 at 2:35 of the second period when he tapped the puck into an open net from the right side of the goal crease after linemate Nikolay Goldobin displayed some nifty stick handling through the slot. Tierney had the secondary assist on the goal, which was Goodrow's second of the season.
Pirates forward Brendan Shinniman pulled the Pirates to within a goal at 10:52 when he ripped a rocket of slap shot from on top of the right faceoff circle while on the rush past Dell for his 22nd goal of the season.
Young regained the Sharks' two goal advantage at 12:16 with his own rocket of a slap shot, this one from the left point at the blue line, for his fifth goal of the season. Sharks defenseman Taylor Fedun and forward Rylan Schwartz had the assists on the goal, which ended Domingue's night in net as he was pulled for backup goaltender Mike McKenna.
With their playoff lives on the line, the Pirates came out with a renewed sense of energy in the third period as they outshot the Sharks 14-6, and tied the game thanks to two goals in a near five-and-a-half minute span by forward Henrik Samuelsson, who scored a power play goal at 1:19 and the equalizer at 6:46 for his 17th and 18th goals of the season.
As the game went under one minute to play in the period, Sharks defenseman Karl Stollery turned the puck over in the neutral zone near his blue line to Pirates forward Alexandre Bolduc, who rushed into the Sharks zone along the right side and fired snap shot from the right faceoff circle dot past both a sliding Dohety and Dell at 19:17 for his 23rd goal of the season, which held up as the game-winning-goal.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 39-25 in favor the Pirates... The Sharks went 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill... Dell finished the season 15-8-3 with a 2.06 goals-against-average and .927 save percentage... Sharks forward Bryan Lerg had a team high four shots on goal... This was the last regular season game at the DCU Center for the Sharks... The Sharks finished 4-3-1-0 against the Pirates, 22-13-3 at the DCU Center and 41-29-6 with 88 points overall.
1. Alexandre Bolduc - Pirates (1-0-1, GWG)
2. Henrik Samuelsson - Pirates (2-1-3)
3. Barclay Goodrow - Sharks (1-1-2)
Goldobin / Tierney / Goodrow
Lerg (C) / Haley (A) / Willows
Schwartz / Oleksuk (A) / Carpenter
Bonneau / Doremus / Ciampini
Taormina (A) / Tennyson
Stollery / Doherty
Young / Fedun