Photo Courtesy: Ron Morin/Portland Pirates
Lewiston, ME- The Portland Pirates will play their final game of the season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee tonight and their second to last game of the 2013-14 season when they host the Albany Devils.
The Pirates are coming off one of their more thrilling games of the season in which Lucas Lessio (28-25-53) scored with 5.8 seconds left to force Sunday’s home game against the Norfolk Admirals to a shootout, which the Admirals eventually won 3-2. The Pirates, winless in their last eight games, did manage a point for the first time since an April 5 overtime loss to the Manchester Monarchs at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The goal gave Lessio the team lead in goals this season, passing Andy Miele (27-43-70) and Tobias Rieder (27-20-47). Brett Hextall (11-12-23) also scored for Portland. Chris Rawlings (1-3-1, 3.82, 0.881) made 26 saves in the shootout defeat, playing his best game in a Pirates uniform.
Portland remain in last place in the league standings, two points behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who are winless in 12 straight games. They are the only team in the AHL on a longer winless streak than Portland.
The Pirates did get some significant help from the Phoenix Coyotes after their season ended on Sunday, though. Yesterday, the Coyotes announced that goalie Mark Visentin (14-19-5, 3.30, 0.901), defensemen Brandon Gormley (6-28-34) and Connor Murphy (0-11-11), and rookie forward Tyler Gaudet to Portland for the final week of the AHL season.
Albany, on the other hand, comes into the game very hot. They’ve won their last three games, all home games last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Albany began last weekend with a 2-1 win over Bridgeport on Friday, followed by a 2-1 shootout victory over the Providence Bruins on Saturday.
The Devils finished their weekend sweep at the Times Union Center with a 4-0 shutout of the Syracuse Crunch. Rookie Reid Boucher (21-16-37) led the attack with two goals and an assist, while Harri Pesonen (14-20-34) dished out three assists on the day. Rookie defenseman Reece Scarlett (6-14-20) had a goal and an assist. Chris McKelvie (9-12-21) also scored a goal. Rookie goalie Scott Wedgewood (15-14-3, 2.41, 0.899, 4 SO) made 20 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Albany’s eighth overall this season.
Albany also recently got an infusion of talent from the their parent club after the New Jersey Devils’ NHL season came to an end last Sunday. Forwards Tim Sestito (13-13-26) and Mike Sislo (23-17-40), who both finished the season in New Jersey, were sent back down, along with defensemen Jon Merrill (2-7-9) and Eric Gelinas (1-4-5). Merrill and Gelinas both spent significant time up in the NHL this season. Merrill had 2-9-11 in 52 games with New Jersey, while Gelinas notched 7-22-29 in 60 games.
Tonight, Gelinas will make a return to the rink where he spent much of his junior career playing for the Lewiston MAINEiacs. Gelinas played a total of 154 games for Lewiston between 2007 and 2010, scoring 16-61-77. He also notched an assist in nine playoff games with Lewiston. He went on to play for the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens from 2010-11 and capped his junior career by winning a President’s Cup and Memorial Cup with the Saint John Sea Dogs at the end of the 2010-11 season before he turned pro.
The Devils can clinch a playoff berth tonight with either a win or by picking up a point and having the Norfolk Admirals lose in regulation at home tonight to the Hershey Bears. The Devils can currently finish anywhere between fifth and ninth place in the Eastern Conference. If Albany clinches a playoff berth, it would be their first since moving to Albany in 2010. The last time the franchise made the Calder Cup playoffs was its final season in Lowell, Massachusetts, 2009-10. They were beaten in the first round four games to one by the Worcester Sharks. If the playoffs started today, Albany would finish sixth place and face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the opening round.
Albany has won two of three meetings with Portland so far this season. Portland’s only win was in the opening game of the season series, a 5-2 decision at the Times Union Center on October 26. Albany won 4-1 at home on December 28 and 4-3 in a shootout at the Colisee on March 7.
Tonight’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. Broadcast coverage kicks off with the Pirates Pregame Show at 6:40 on the full WPEI Portland Pirates Radio Network and here at portlandpiratesradio.com.
Portland Pirates (NHL Affiliate: Phoenix Coyotes)
Overall Record: 24-38-3-9, 60 points
Atlantic Division Ranking: 5th
Eastern Conference Ranking: 15th
Home Record: 10-18-0-8
Power Play: 19.9% (tied-9th)
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (18th)
2013-14 Overall Record vs. Albany: 1-1-0-1
2013-14 Home Record vs. Albany: 0-0-0-1
Albany Devils (NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils)
Overall Record: 38-25-5-8, 89 points
Northeast Division Ranking: 2nd
Eastern Conference Ranking: 6th
Road Record: 15-14-2-6
Power Play: 16.4% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 82.7% (14th)
2013-14 Overall Record vs. Portland: 2-1-0-0
2013-14 Record @ Portland: 1-0-0-0