Goaltender Mike McKenna stopped 30 shots to lead the Portland Pirates to a big 2-0 win over the visiting Providence Bruins Friday night in front of 4,013 fans at Cross Insurance Arena. The win was McKenna's 30th of the season and the shutout was the keeper's third of the campaign.
The key victory kept the Pirates two points ahead of the Hartford Wolf Pack (with a game in hand) and six points ahead of the Syracuse Crunch in the chase for the final playoff berth in the AHL's Eastern Conference.
Connor Brickley opened the scoring with his ninth of the season, from Cameron Gaunce, at 4:32 of the first period.
Veteran Rob Schremp gave the Pirates some insurance when he notched his team-leading 21st with 6:16 left in the second. The goal was set up by Matt MacKenzie and Wayne Simpson.
Portland (36-25-5-2) will face the Wolf Pack tonight in Hartford in a game with enormous playoff implications.