LOWELL, MA – The Lowell Devils scored twice in the final 23.6 seconds to force overtime against the Portland Pirates, but eventually fell in the shootout, 7-6, on Sunday at the Tsgonas Arena. The Devils fired a season-high 50 shots in the game, including 26 in the third, and went 4-for-6 on the man-advantage.
After Mark Mancari had seemingly iced the game on an empty-net goal with a minute left that made the score, 6-4, in the Pirates favor, the Devils began the late-game dramatics.
With goalie Jeff Frazee on the bench and its net empty in favor of the extra attacker, Lowell pulled within one when Matt Halischuk banged home a loose puck after a scramble in front of netminder John DeCaro.
On the ensuing faceoff, Nicklas Bergfors drew a hooking penalty that gave the Devils a power play and a chance to tie. Again with the net empty to use a 5-on-3 advantage, Anssi Salmela blasted home a slapshot from the point that evened the contest with just 5.5 remaining on the clock.
The five-minute overtime period would not be enough to decide the game and so both teams headed to the shootout for the second time in three games. DeCaro was able to deny four Devils shooters and Colton Fretter and Mark Mancari scored for Portland as they pulled out the victory.
The first period was a back-and-forth affair that began with Pascal Rheaume deflecting in Salmela’s point shot on the man-advantage at 7:38. Almost four minutes later, Tim Kennedy knotted it, 1-1, with his first goal of the evening.
Rod Pelley put Lowell back up on top at 12:07, jarring the puck loose with a check in the near corner of the Portland zone and then sneaking the puck through the five-hole of DeCaro.
The Devils saw the Pirates tie things up again after a turnover in their own zone, as Colton Fretter beat Jeff Frazee in close at 16:07 with a wrister to the blocker side.
Kennedy’s power play goal gave Portland its first lead of the game at 4:51 of the second as his bad angle shot from the farside goal line squeezed by Frazee to make the score, 3-2.
Lowell was able to convert once again on a 5-on-4 advantage and pull even when Nicklas Bergfors sent wrist shot from the hash marks over the glove of DeCaro. Marek Zagrapan helped the Pirates answer on the power play 2:20 later, tipping in Felix Schutz’s centering feed.
The Devils’ third power play goal of the game tied the game, 4-4, at 12:47 of the third as Barry Tallackson stepped with the puck from the near post and swept it into the right side of the net.
Kennedy needed only 1:06 to respond and notch his first career hat trick as the Devils failed to clear the crease and the Pirates rookie lifted the puck into the top shelf.
The Lowell Devils host the Albany River Rats on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:00 p.m. Listen to the game live on 980AM-WCAP or ahllive.com. For more information about individual tickets and group packages, call (978) 458-PUCK (7825) or log on to www.lowelldevilshockey.com.