Phantoms Power Past Penguins 4-1

Saturday, March 28, 2015

West Chester, Pa. native Nick Luukko made his pro debut with the Phantoms tonight.
 You got the feeling that it was only a matter of time before the bounces would start to go the Lehigh Valley's way. Tonight against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the goals came in bunches.  

Two goals 75 seconds apart midway through the first period by Scott Laughton and Jesper Pettersson gave the Phantoms a lead they would never look back on, tacking on two more - one by Steven Delisle in the middle frame and an empty net tally from Laughton in the final minute - en route to a 4-1 win. Jason Akeson tallied a game-high three assists and Rob Zepp stopped 33 of 34 in victory.

The real difference in tonight's game might not have been bounces that went Lehigh Valley's way, but the fight off the opening face-off between Brett Hextall and Dominik Uher. There wasn't a clear winner by any stretch of the imagination - both combatants stood in and delivered punches with neither falling - but it got the Phantoms dialed in and on the same page according to Phantoms head coach Terry Murray.

The Phantoms snap a four-game losing skid with tonight's win at the PPL Center in front of a new season-high crowd of 9,017, but have a tough task ahead of themselves Sunday afternoon when the Manchester Monarchs - the top team in the Eastern Conference - comes to town.



Scott Laughton on his first goal in eight games & restoring confidence in himself:
I think Akey grabbed that monkey off my back. Me Akey and Leier talked before the game about getting pucks to the net and I thought tonight we did a good job of that. It was a good win for our team.
 Head coach Terry Murray on Hextall's fight on the opening face-off:
That's a great way to start a game. That's on his own, just a smart play I thought to bring everybody into it. It drags the team into playing the game and it was a great way to start it.
Murray on Nick Lukko's pro debut:
He did a pretty good job. He handled the game pretty well. Had the puck on his stick a few times, showed good composure and made some plays on breakouts. I thought overall, considering the circumstances, he did a pretty good job.
Nick Luukko on making his pro debut near his hometown (West Chester, Pa.):
It's awesome. Even when the Phantoms were in Philadelphia, I liked going to the games. I grew up there and stuff so it's pretty awesome to make my pro debut close to home. It's a good start, for sure.  

A fight off of the opening face-off between Brett Hextall and Dominik Uher seemed to set the tone for a physical, tight-checking game. It wasn't until midway through the first period that the game's first goal was scored and in the first time in their last five games it was the Penguins getting on the board first.

On a power play, Jason Akeson got a puck to Scott Laughton at the half-wall on the right wing face-off circle and Laughton did the rest - waiting out a Penguins defender before picking the top left corner on Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Credit Zack Stortini with an expert screen in front of Murray to give the Phantoms a power play goal and 1-0 lead 9:44 into the opening period.

The Phantoms made it 2-0 just 1:15 later on a point shot blast from Jesper Pettersson - his 2nd of the season. Pettersson's only other goal this season came on January 31st against the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre, his first pro goal in North America.

The Penguins got to their game after head coach John Hynes called a timeout to settle his team down immediately following Pettersson's goal. They drew a power play late in the period and pressured, but Rob Zepp was able to make the necessary stops to hold the Phantoms two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

The Penguins continued to force the issue in the opening minutes of the 2nd period - sustaining offensive zone pressure - but were unable to get shots through to Zepp and create sustained scoring chances.

A Steven Delisle point shot halfway through the hockey game trickled past Murray to extend the Phantoms lead to 3-0 with 9:43 left in the 2nd. From there, it seemed the Phantoms re-gained momentum.

The Penguins dominated play in the third period - out shooting the Phantoms 19-1 in final frame - and made it a 3-1 game halfway through on Andrew Ebbett's 16th of the season but that's as close as the Pens would get before an empty netter by Laughton capped the final scoring at 4-1.


Rob Zepp (33 saves - 34 shots) got the start in net for Lehigh Valley tonight against W-B/Scranton, with rookie Anthony Stolarz backing him up.

Plenty of roster shuffling today in the Flyers organization saw Mark Alt, Oliver Lauridsen and Jason Akeson called up to Philadelphia only to have them re-assigned back to Lehigh Valley after the Flyers' Saturday afternoon game. Only Jason Akeson, who didn't play in Philadelphia today, was in the Phantoms lineup.

The roster moves gave West. Chester, Pa. native Nick Luukko (on an ATO with Phantoms) a chance to make his pro debut near his hometown on a third pairing with Maxim Lamarche (recalled Saturday morning from ECHL Reading).

Jesper Petersson also returned to the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch on Wednesday night vs. Syracuse.

Up front, the lone change from Wednesday was Derek Mathers in for Kevin Goumas.

Head coach Terry Murray didn't offer an update on injured forward Darroll Powe after the game, other than to say he's not with the team and hasn't been coming to the rink. He won't play tomorrow and is likely out for the foreseeable future.

Scratches: Mark Alt (healthy), Oliver Lauridsen (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (ACL injury), Kevin Goumas (healthy) and Darroll Powe (upper body)

Lines (Starters in Bold & Italics)

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Jason Akeson
Zack Stortini - Blair Jones - Andrew Gordon
Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Brett Hextall
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Derek Mathers

Robert Hagg - Jesper Pettersson
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle
Maxim Lamarche - Nick Luukko

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

0:05: WBS - Uher, major (fighting)
0:05: LV - Hextall, major (fighting)
6:18: LV - (PP) Stortini, minor (interference)
8:33: WBS - (PP) Chorney, minor (holding)
9:44: LV - PPG Laughton (8) - Akeson
10:59: LV - Petterson (2) - Straka, Hagg
16:22: LV - (PP) Fyten, minor (tripping)

2nd Period

4:07: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (interference)
4:27: WBS - (PP) Wilson, minor (hooking)
9:43: LV - Delisle (4) - Akeson, Laughton
16:52: LV - Delisle, minor (tripping)
20:00: LV - Jones, major (fighting)
20:00: WBS - Ruopp, major (fighting)

3rd Period

9:17: WBS - Ebbett (16) - Kostopoulos, Wilson
13:31: LV - (PP) Akeson, minor (hooking)
19:02: LV - ENG Laughton (9) - Akeson


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