Late Comeback by Lehigh Valley Comes Up Short in OT

Saturday, November 14, 2015
The Devils out-lasted the Phantoms in overtime. Photo credit: Nina Weiss
Through the first 46 minutes of play, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms mustered up just nine shots on goal and looked to be giving the Albany Devils an easy 1-0 win. 

They turned it up in the final 14 of regulation, tying the game on Petr Straka's team-leading 9th goal of the season, but ultimately came up short in the three-on-three overtime. Still, the Phantoms finished the week 2-0-1 and carry the three-game unbeaten streak to the road as they will play four straight road games starting next Friday night in Providence.

Anthony Stolarz is taking over the team's number one goaltending duties, stopping 27 of 29 shots in his third straight start - keeping his team in the game after the Phantoms were out shot 14-3 in the opening period of play.

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Scott Gordon on taking too long to adjust to Albany's defense-first style:
Definitely. Three shots and five in the second. Countless turnovers. We certainly made it very hard on ourselves and to their credit they play a style that allows them to be one of the top teams for shots against. They have a great penalty kill and a good power play and apparently some pretty good goaltending too.
Gordon on taking positives from third:
It started a little bit in the second period. We at least got some offensive zone time. We didn't get pucks to the net. We weren't doing a very good job being in front of the net when we did get pucks there. As a result, their defensemen were ready to get the pucks to start their transition going on offense. 
When you have to battle somebody in the front of the net, you aren't ready to go get the loose pucks. We did more of that in the third period and a result of that they weren't able to swarm us in the defensive zone. 
Sam Morin on his first pro fight:
It went pretty well. The guy was not that tough. I tried to wake the team up a little bit. I thought the first and second were going nowhere, so it was a good time to drop.
Morin on what went wrong in first 40 minutes:
They were blocking a lot of shots. First period was not what we wanted. Second period was better but they were blocking so many shots. Third period was good, but not the first two.
Petr Straka on adjusting to Albany's style:
We were battling through the whole game. We know their a great defensive team. We played them 14 times two years ago, some of us knew exactly what to expect. It's tough to play against them. It took us too long to get adjusted to it.
Straka on his game-tying goal in 3rd:
There was good some pressure from the unit on the power play. We got the puck to the point and I saw him shoot it so I had a good angle for a high tip and tried to get to the net. Luckily we got one to go in and it was important for us to get a point out of here.
Straka on how Albany plays:
It's just ugly hockey. I don't know if they're happy with how they play, but that's how they do it. We have to battle it and obviously we played some offensive teams recently. Binghamton, it's 80 shots in the game against them so this is whole different hockey. We needed to adjust and it shouldn't take that much time but it did. I thought we were lucky to just be down one goal at that point.

The Devils controlled most of the first period, aided by power plays in both the beginning and end of the first frame. They out shot the Phantoms 14-3 in the first 20 minutes, and took a 1-0 lead in the final 30 seconds of the period while on their 2nd power play of the period.

Matt Lorito got a puck to Mike Sislo entering the zone and Sislo did the rest. Although his initial shot was stopped by the blocker of Stolarz, Sislo got his own rebound in the left-wing face-off circle and used his teammate Joseph Blandisi as a perfect screen to the rebound over Stolarz's glove.

Offensively, things weren't coming as easy for the Phantoms as they did in the previous two games this week, Albany, much like their NHL club New Jersey, prides itself on defense and shutting things down.
It was much of the same in the second period. The Devils continued to block shots and play strong in their defensive zone - limiting the Phantoms to just five shots in the middle period for a 40-minute total of just eight shots on net.

The lone entertainment of the 2nd period came at the 8:33 mark when Sam Morin dropped his gloves for the first time at the pro-level, going to town on a much smaller Joseph Blandisi in a one-sided fight.

The Phantoms had a late period power play, but were unable to register a shot. Despite the lack of offensive output through 40 minutes, Lehigh Valley was still very much in the hockey game with a one-goal deficit staring them in the face heading to the 3rd period.

Lehigh Valley came out for the third much like they played the first 40 minutes, with just one shot on goal registered through the first 6:48 of the final frame. But still, it was a one-goal hockey game.

A crucial power play with 11:28 left in the third period gave the Phantoms a chance to tie things up, and after a stopped shot and stopped rebound Petr Straka finished off the third attempt to give the 8,959 fans at PPL Center something to cheer about.

The Phantoms got it to overtime, but fell short. A neutral zone turnover gave Corey Tropp a 2-on-1 with Blandisi and after Stolarz came way out of his net to challenge Tropp's shot, Blandisi found a way to get to the crease and shove home the rebound to notch the game-winner for the Devils, now winners of four straight.


Anthony Stolarz (27 saves - 29 shots) got his third straight start in net for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, with Jason LaBarbera backing him up.

With Shayne Gostisbehere and Taylor Leier called up by Philadelphia, there were two additions to the Phantoms lineup tonight.

Matt Lashoff replaced Gostisbehere on the back end and Brandon Alderson returned to the lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch the past few games.

Aaron Palushaj missed his fourth straight game with an upper body injury suffered last Saturday night in Syracuse. Coach Scott Gordon expects him back in the lineup next weekend.

Cole Bardreau remains out of the lineup after returning Sunday versus Binghamton and getting injured.

Colin McDonald is expected to return to action next weekend as well, per head coach Scott Gordon.

Phantoms Scratches: Cole Bardreau (injured), Colin McDonald (injured), Michael Parks (injured), Aaron Palushaj (injured), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) & Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)


Tyrell Goulbourne - Tim Brent - Danick Martel
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Brandon Alderson - Kevin Sundher - Evan Rankin
Kevin Goumas - Pavel Padakin

Andrew MacDonald - Matt Lashoff
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Robert Hagg
Christian Marti

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

3:04: LV - (PP) Alt, minor (tripping)
17:32: LV - (PP) Sundher, minor (hooking)
19:25: ALB - PPG Sislo (8) - Lorito, Coleman

2nd Period

2:09: LV - (PP) Brent, minor (cross-checking)
8:33: LV - Morin, major (fighting)
8:33: ALB - Blandisi, major (fighting)
15:08: ALB - (PP) Scarlett, minor (interference)

3rd Period

8:32: ALB - (PP) Coleman, minor (tripping)
10:32: LV Straka (9) - Goulbourne, MacDonald
10:50: ALB - (PP) McPherson, minor (high-sticking)
12:09: ALB - (PP) Scarlett, minor (cross-checking)


1:53: ALB - Blandisi (6) - Tropp


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