Snowstorm Shootout - Phantoms Prevail Over Penguins

Sunday, February 15, 2015
Phantoms defeat rival Penguins and look to stay in win column tomorrow in Springfield.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms climbed their way back in the third period and completed the comeback with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight - another big win for the Phantoms at Mohegan Sun Arena in a game they were out-gunned in the first 40 minutes.

Taylor Leier opened the scoring 4:54 into play and tallied the winner in the bottom half of the fourth round after a surprise 4th round shooter of Nick D'Agostino for the Penguins missed the net on his attempt. Leier now has seven points in his last nine games and is a perfect 2-for-2 in the shootout with both of his shootout goals coming against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. That's not the only thing interesting about Leier shootout goals this year after catching up with him post-game.

Jason Akeson tied the game with 9:04 left in regulation on his second power play goal of the night in what was, for the most part, a dominant third period for the Phantoms. Akeson's first goal was also a big one, not only because it tied the game at 3-3 midway through the 2nd, but because it was Akeson's 200th career AHL point, all with the Phantoms - making him just the 5th player in the franchise's history to reach that plateau in scoring.

I overheard Andrew Gordon saying that everything that Nick Cousins touched turned into gold and that he should buy a lottery ticket. It's true, Cousins had a hand in scoring three of the Phantoms' four goals tonight with three assists. The AHL's Player of the Month for January isn't cooling off in February either, now with nine points (2G-7A) in five February games.

The only goal Cousins didn't figure in on was a highlight reel slap shot blast from Adam Comrie off a turnover in the Penguins defensive zone. It was one of those right place right time moments for Comrie, who had just hopped over the boards for his shift and skated towards the offensive blue line when a loose puck glided towards him. Comrie met the puck and destroyed it, beating Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff high to the glove side.  He joked after the game that it was better than any kind of scenario he could of drawn up himself.

Both goaltenders faced series of high-pressure, defenders on their heels type situations. Zatkoff fended off the Phantoms half of the third period and only allowed one goal as the Phantoms were out shooting the Pens 13-4 at one point. For the Phantoms, Rob Zepp kept his team in the game in the first period after Leier opened the scoring when the Penguins were tilting the ice in their favor. Zepp only allowed a power play deflection goal by Pens team captain Tom Kostopoulos 13:18 into the period, stopping 13 of the 14 shots he faced.

The Phantoms are hopping on the bus and heading roughly four hours (likely more because of the snowstorm in the Northeast) to Springfield, Massachusetts - the site of their final game of the three-game weekend against the Falcons () on a Sunday at 5:00 p.m. EST.

They are expected to meet up with recently re-assigned forward Scott Laughton, who couldn't make it in time for the game tonight because of the inclement weather. Head coach Terry Murray said after the game tonight that Laughton will be in the lineup and be playing a lot of minutes in all situations, which is critical in his development at this point in his career - his first full season at the pro level.

Latest roster news and notes for both teams after the jump.

Cousins was hooked by Taylor Chorney skating through the neutral zone. Chorney lost his stick on the play & continued to bear-hug Cousins as he shot from the slot, drawing a delayed penalty call, but Leier put home Cousins' rebound attempt 4:54 into the opening frame to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins seemed to get to their game the shift following Leier's goal, buzzing for the next five or so minutes before heading on the first power play of the night and evening the score at 1-1.

Scott Wilson got the puck to Dumoulin on the point and the WBS defenseman blasted a point shot that team captain Kostopoulos re-directed past Zepp with 6:42 left in the first.

The Pens continued to press in the 1st period, but a defensive zone turnover with 3:35 left proved costly. Adam Comrie picked up the loose puck just inside the blue line and let go an absolute rocket blast wired to the top shelf, beating Zatkoff high to the glove side.

After Comrie's goal, though, Steven Delisle took a roughing penalty and restored the momentum with the Penguins. If not for some big time saves from Zepp in the first period, the Phantoms would not have had their 2-1 lead heading into the middle frame.

The Pens didn't score on their late first period power play but they continued to have the jump at the start of the 2nd. In the opening minute, Chorney caught Sheary splitting between the defense in the neutral zone and needled the thread with a perfect breakaway outlet pass. The finish by Sheary was even better, picking the same corner as Comrie's slap shot goal 57 seconds into the 2nd to tie the game at 2-2.

The Phantoms penalty problems resurfaced in the second period and the Pens took advantage. On a defensive zone face-off following a Jay Rosehill slashing minor, Brandon Manning cleared one into the stands for delay of game and 1:58 of five-on-three time for the Pens to work with.

It was Dumoulin again setting up the power play goal, dishing to Rust just inside the left-wing faceoff circle for a one-timer to give WBS a 3-2 lead. Andrew Ebbett also picked up an assist on the play with 12:10 left in the middle period.

The penalties evened themselves out quickly, as the Phantoms got 51 seconds of two-man advantage time two minutes later and tied the game back up, at 3-3. Cousins got the puck to the right point to Manning, who fed a pass across the blue line to Akeson for his 13th of the season with 8:01 left.

The back-and-forth battle continued on the scoreboard as fan favorite Bobby Farnham re-directed a Nick D'Agostino point shot past Zepp 1:11 after Akeson tied the game to give the Pens the lead back at 4-3. It was Farnham's 2nd goal in his last three games. Matia Marcantuoni also added an assist on Farnham's 4th of the season.

The Penguins drew a power play at the end of the second period and came out for the third with a soft effort on the power play, giving the Phantoms momentum. The Phantoms outshot the Pens as much as 13-4 at one point in the final frame, tying the game on Akeson's second power play goal of the night.

The Penguins turned things up a notch and pressured most of the final four minutes of regulation, but credit the Phantoms defense for blocking shots and clearing away several pucks in and around the crease on second and third chance opportunities against.


Jeff Zatkoff (35 saves - 39 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Penguins, with Matt Murray getting the night off after his league-leading 6th shutout of the season last night vs. Portland.

Besides the change in net, the only other lineup change was Pierre-Luc Leblond in up front on the 4th line for Adam Payerl, a healthy scratch.

Scratches: Harrison Ruopp (healthy), Alex Boak (healthy), Nick Drazenovic (undisclosed, missed 2nd straight game), Anton Zlobin (out for the season, shoulder surgery) and Adam Payerl (healthy)


Conor Sheary - Andrew Ebbett - Bryan Rust
Scott Wilson - Jayson Megna - Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Uher - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl
Bobby Farnham - Matia Marcantuoni - Pierre-Luc Leblond

Brian Dumoulin - Taylor Chorney
Reid McNeill - Scott Harrington
Nick D'Agostino - Barry Goers

Jeff Zatkoff - Matt Murray


Rob Zepp (30 saves - 34 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms tonight, with Martin Ouellette backing him up.

Defenseman Mark Alt returned to the lineup, out since breaking his hand while blocking a shot vs. Binghamton back on New Years Eve. Brett Flemming was scratched to make room for Alt.

Scott Laughton was re-assigned to the Phantoms from Philadelphia Saturday afternoon, but was not in the lineup. Derek Mathers slotted back into the lineup as Brandon Alderson sat out as a healthy scratch.

Scratches: Brett Flemming (healthy), Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL surgery in November), Brandon Alderson (healthy) and Blair Jones (lower body - out at least six weeks)


Darroll Powe - Jason Akeson - Zack Stortini
Taylor Leier - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Brett Hextall
Petr Straka - Kevin Goumas - Derek Mathers

Brandon Manning - Mark Alt
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen - Robert Hagg

Rob Zepp - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

4:54: LV - Leier (12) - Cousins, Comrie
12:02: LV - (PP) Powe, minor (delay of game)
13:18: WBS - PPG Kostopoulous (11) - Dumoulin, Wilson
16:25: LV - Comrie (2) - unassisted
17:28: LV - (PP) Delisle, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

0:57: WBS - Sheary (16) - Chorney
7:18: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (slashing)
7:20: LV - (PP) Manning, minor (delay of game)
7:50: PPG Rust (13) - Dumoulin, Ebbett
9:50: WBS - (PP) McNeill, minor (high-sticking)
10:59: WBS - (PP) Harrington, minor (cross-checking)
11:59: LV - PPG Akeson (13) - Manning, Cousins
13:10: WBS - Farnham (4) - D'Agostino, Marcantuoni
20:00: LV - (PP) Akeson, minor (holding)

3rd Period

4:57: WBS - (PP) McNeill, minor (tripping)
7:35: WBS - (PP) D'Agostino, minor (holding)
10:37: WBS - (PP) Wilson, minor (hooking)
10:56: LV - PPG Akeson (14) - Cousins, Manning


No scoring or penalties



1. Scott Wilson - no goal
2. Bryan Rust - GOAL
3. Andrew Ebbett - no goal
4. Nick D'Agostino - no goal


1. Petr Straka - GOAL
2. Jason Akeson - no goal
3. Nick Cousins - no goal
4. Taylor Leier - GOAL



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