First Period Dooms Phantoms In Loss To Toronto

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Toronto's Nikita Soshnikov led all skaters with two goals tonight. Photo credit: Nina Weiss
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms got off to a slow start in the first period of their third game this weekend and it cost them Sunday against a Toronto Marlies team also playing in the tail end of their own three-in-three weekend.

The Phantoms fell behind 3-1 in the first period and that was all the scoring in the contest. They had trouble generating consistent offensive pressure until the third period, but it was too little too late for Lehigh Valley.

Taylor Leier scored the lone Phantoms goal in the first period, a shorthanded tally after a good play in the neutral zone to steal a puck. Unfortunately, the momentum was short lived as Nikita Soshnikov tallied his second goal of the period just 1:02 after Leier's goal to put the Phantoms down two goals again.

Anthony Stolarz got the start in net again tonight after a strong performance last night against Providence. He stopped 22 of 25 shots for the game and with Michal Neuvirth on the injured reserve in the NHL and Jason LaBarbera called up to fill in for him, Stolarz will look to carry the load in net for the Phantoms. Lehigh Valley is back at it on Wednesday night at home when they host the St. John's IceCaps in the first of two games against the IceCaps next week.


Scott Gordon on the first period doing the Phantoms in tonight:
I don't think you have to look any further than that. At the end of the day, our first period was our downfall. We gave up 14-5 shots and quite honestly Stolie gave up three goals - it probably could have been seven.
Gordon getting sustained pressure in the offensive zone:
Part of it is just turnovers. Three games in three nights, your legs aren't going to go as quickly. Your brain is not going to think as clear. Instead of playing a simpler game, we made it difficult on ourselves with the turnovers we made and that put us on our heels.
Andrew MacDonald on fixing things on the penalty kill the last two games:
 Tonight during the first, obviously all around it wasn't a great period for us. They had some pretty good quality chances both five on five and penalty kill. After that I thought we tightened up and did a better job with our forecheck. Once we got in zone we kept things tight. We were tired but we weren't chasing. Stolie was great back there, he made some big saves on the PK. That's what you need, especially when you're struggling, just to gain some momentum and get things going the right way.
MacDonald on getting things turned around on the power play:
I think we are getting some pretty good looks. Our entries [to the zone] have been pretty good. I feel like we need to get more pucks to the net. Just minor adjustments, I think we're moving it well and we're finding seams. Sometimes, we just have to go the net and shoot towards the net a little more. That being said, it's something that's easily fixable and it will start going our way.
Evan Rankin on joining the team on a PTO:
I was traveling in from Toledo and obviously meeting the team a little bit over the course of the weekend. I know a couple guys already. Winning the first one [Saturday] was big for the team to respond and obviously we're unfortunate tonight. We have a game on Wednesday to prepare for now.
Rankin on learning a lot in a short time:
I've been in the AHL for the last four years, I know how this league works. It is a new system and I'm picking up little pieces here and there. Obviously you want to bring everything you can and try to make a difference.

Rankin on what he brings to the rink:
I like to be a fiesty little forward, win puck battles in the corner. I have found a lot of success in my career battling in front of the net. I'm just looking for the opportunity to get there and at the same time make sure I'm covering my responsibilities defensively. Meeting the guys and starting to get habits with your line mates is an interesting thing to pick up.

After a bit of a sluggish start for both teams - who were in the tail end of their respective 3-in-3 weekends - the Marlies took a 1-0 lead on Frederik Gauthier's 1st of the season, after the Marlies' forward got open in the slot and beat Stolarz to the spot with a high hard shot 4:51 into play.

Stolarz appeared to have a puck covered in his crease towards the middle of the first frame and the referee's whistle seemingly blew the play dead, but the red light behind the Phantoms goaltender came on and the referee in position behind the net ruled it was in before the whistle. Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon was very displeased with the call and was not given much of an explanation. Nikita Soshnikov got credit on the Marlies' 2nd goal which gave them a 2-0 lead 8:25 into the period.

The Phantoms had their first power play cut short by a Brandon Alderson boarding call and it seemed like things were spiraling out of control for Lehigh Valley, but Taylor Leier tallied a shorthanded goal to cut the Phantoms' deficit in half. Leier made a great play in the neutral zone, stealing the puck off of Josh Leivo after a sloppy drop pass from Leivo's teammate and breaking in all alone on Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau. Leier went backhand to forehand and snapped a quick shot past Bibeau low to the blocker side with 7:58 left in the opening period to make it a 2-1 game.

Unfortunately for the Phantoms, just 62 seconds later Soshnikov pulled Toronto back in front by two goals - breaking into the Phantoms defensive zone, cutting to the middle and firing a shot between the top of the face-off circles past an unsuspecting Stolarz to make it 3-1 Marlies.

The Phantoms were out shot 14-5 in the first period and had quite a hill to climb after the opening 20 minutes. They got off to a better start in the middle frame - getting the first four shots of the period - but were unable to get one past Bibeau to cut into the deficit.

Just as it seemed the Phantoms were getting some momentum, a pair of penalties disrupted their pace and prevented them from generating much offensive pressure. After four shots in the opening 2:05 of the period, the Phantoms just mustered four shots on net and a few missed odd-man chances the rest of the frame.

A bit of a scary moment midway through the period as Taylor Leier was cut by a skate and went down in a heap behind the Phantoms' net. Leier missed most of the rest of the period before returning in the final minute as the Phantoms got a late power play. He was shown in a between periods interview with several stitches on the bridge of his nose.

It was much of the same in the third period for the Phantoms. They out shot the Marlies 9-3 in the final frame, but were unable to cut into the 3-1 deficit. They had some good looks on the power play, most notably Tim Brent hitting the post from the side of the net, but couldn't make it a one-goal game to put the pressure back on Toronto.


Anthony Stolarz (22 saves - 25 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms. Martin Ouellette, called up from Reading (ECHL) today, backed up Stolarz.

Same lineup as last night for the Phantoms.

The Phantoms signed forward Evan Rankin to a professional tryout contract (PTO) in advance of last night's game. Rankin was with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye to start this season before getting a PTO with Lehigh Valley.

Phantoms Scratches: Robert Hagg (injured), Cole Bardreau (injured), Colin McDonald (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Danick Martel (injured), Matt Lashoff (healthy/veteran) and Derek Mathers (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier - Tim Brent - Aaron Palushaj
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Jay Rosehill - Kevin Goumas - Brandon Alderson
Tyrell Goulbourne - Pavel Padakin - Evan Rankin

Shayne Gostisbehere - Andrew MacDonald
Davis Drewiske - Jesper Pettersson
Sam Morin - Mark Alt

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

4:51: TOR - Gauthier (1) - Clune, Martin
8:25: TOR -Soshnikov (2) - Bailey, Clune
8:38: TOR - (PP) Leivo, minor (tripping)
10:15: LV - (PP) Alderson, minor (boarding)
12:02: LV - SHG Leier (2) - unassisted
13:04: TOR - Soshnikov (3) - unassisted
13:23: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (holding)
15:02: LV - MacDonald, minor (roughing)
15:02: TOR - Frattin, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

9:36: LV - (PP) Alt, minor (cross-checking)

15:39: LV - (PP) Rosehill, minor (roughing)
19:13: TOR - (PP) Gauthier, minor (cross-checking)

3rd Period

1:47: TOR - (PP) Leipsic, minor (delay of game)
19:38: TOR - (PP) Frattin, minor (hooking)


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