Pirates 6, Phantoms 3
That's a long way to travel without a win to show for it.
The Phantoms tied an AHL season high and their second-worst road losing streak in team history tonight with a 6-3 loss to the Portland Pirates Wednesday, their 10th straight defeat on the road.
They also lost 10 in a row from Dec. 21, 2011, to Feb. 18, 2012, last season. The Adirondack Phantoms' team record is 13 straight road losses, which they accomplished from Oct. 12, 2010, to Dec. 5, 2010, as part of a larger stretch that saw the 2010-11 team win just six of its first 31 games.
They have five games left on this seven-game road trip, so that 13 is not necessarily an impossibility.
They head to Binghamton Friday and Hershey Saturday. Both of those teams are playoff teams. Then they go to Norfolk Tuesday, and face a Norfolk team that has the fifth-highest home win total in the conference with 17. None of these games are easy, particularly at this late stage in the season.
Special teams played a pretty big role in this one. Adirondack got some production from its' power play unit late, but by that point they were down 5-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the game. Mitch Wahl and Jason Akeson cut it to 5-3 on a Brendan Shinnimin boarding major, but that was it.
Then Brett Hextall scored in the final minute of the game to close out the scoring. Ballgame.
If Adirondack had scored on it's first power play in the first period, instead of allowing a shorthanded goal to Jordan Szwarz, maybe there's a different result. But they didn't, and then Portland's own power play got a goal from Chris Brown a little more than four minutes after that for a 2-0 lead.
Matt Mangene cut it to 2-1 later in the first period, but David Rundblad scored a power play goal in the second period and then Alexandre Bolduc and Andy Miele scored 59 seconds apart in the third.
Scott Munroe made 26 saves, including a penalty shot stop on Bolduc about three minutes before the Pirates' captain finally did score. The defense didn't provide him much help, as a couple goals were scored off unmarked men in front or, in the case of Bolduc, splitting two defenders in the high slot.
I think it's going to be really difficult for the Phantoms to win some games from here on out. They have 17 games to go, and 16 of them are against Eastern Conference teams who are either in the playoffs or five or less points out of a playoff spot. Those teams see a team with Adirondack's record and realize they absolutely have to win that game as they fight for seeding. They can't lose to a 23-31-2-3, 14th-place team if they want home-ice, so they come out flying. Portland played like a team that wanted to win its division today, and the Pirates are now two points back of Providence.
It's actually shaping up to be a good race up at the top of the conference. You've got six points separating first and fifth place, a six-point gap, then eight points separating sixth from 13th place. The downside is there are eight points separating 13th from 14th, and that's where Adirondack now sits.
More after practice tomorrow.