Sluggish Start Plagues Phantoms In Hartford

Sunday, November 22, 2015
Phantoms slow start did them in tonight in Hartford. 
Lehigh Valley wasn't ready for the opening face-off tonight and it showed. They fell behind 2-0 just 3:21 into play and it ultimately did them in in a 3-1 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Petr Straka got his league-leading 11th goal of the season to get the Phantoms within a goal, but Tanner Glass scored a power play goal late in the 3rd to push Hartford's lead back to two.

The Phantoms conclude the weekend with a rematch in Providence Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. against a Bruins team that snapped a seven game win-less streak tonight against Springfield. Both teams will be playing their third game in three days, so another slow start by the Phantoms tomorrow will be trouble.

After the jump, some post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon and forward Petr Straka.

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Scott Gordon on what happened in the opening minutes:
Just missed coverage. The rest of the game was pretty good we didn't give up a lot. We had two breakaways and Nick Cousins had a point blank shot from the slot we didn't cash in on, so I can't complain about our effort and ability to generate chances. The first three minutes killed us.
Gordon on the message after the 1st period:
We were already playing well before we got to the second. But it was just the first three or four minutes that did us in.
Gordon on the start of tomorrow's game in Providence:
We have to make sure that we try to get that first goal. You might not score you have to do all the right things.
Petr Straka on if the team was too relaxed or lacking urgency to start the game:
Maybe lacking urgency, it's hard to say. It's something we need to figure out ourselves - it didn't happen for the first time. We need to make sure as soon as the puck drops that we are ready to go and we do the right stuff. Pretty much that lost us the game tonight.
Straka on getting to their game:
I thought the rest of the first period wasn't that bad. We thought we had some chances, got a couple breakaways. If we score one of those goals it was probably a different game, but like I said the start of that game is something that shouldn't happen.

The Phantoms were not ready for the opening face-off tonight against Hartford. The Wolf Pack took it to Lehigh Valley from the drop of the puck, pressuring Stolarz and taking a 1-0 lead before some fans at the XL Center had gotten to their seats.

Jayson Megna's initial shot was stopped, but he followed his rebound to the corner and fed a puck out in front to Brady Skjei in the high-slot for a goal 29 seconds into the contest.

The Wolf Pack weren't done there either. They made it 2-0 just 3:21 into the first period when Luke Adam re-directed a point shot from Tommy Hughes past Stolarz. Megna added a second assist on the play as that line of Gibbons-Megna-Adam was involved in both goals early in the game.

Other than one sequence when the Phantoms second line of Straka-Cousins-Conner had some extended zone time and scoring chances, there weren't many positives for the Phantoms in the opening 20 minutes. They didn't establish their fore-check and made it easy on Hartford exiting their zone.

Lehigh Valley got to their game in the 2nd stanza, pressuring Hartford's defensemen in their defensive zone and making it harder for the Wolf Pack to bring the puck up the ice,

The Phantoms made it a one-goal game 3:43 into the middle frame after Nick Cousins got a puck to Petr Straka entering the zone wide and with speed. Mark Alt cut to the net with a good center drive and Straka's attempted centering pass to Alt bounced in off the stick of one of Hartford's defenders to make it a 2-1 score.

Big moment with 3:13 left in the 2nd period as Alt hooked Hartford's Brian Gibbons on a breakaway. Gibbons was awarded a penalty shot, but he attempted to go five-hole on Stolarz and the Phantoms goalie stood tall to keep Lehigh Valley within a goal.

Unfortunately, Colin McDonald was whistled for an illegal check to the head on the next shift and after the Phantoms killed it off Sam Morin was tagged for closing his hand on a puck with 7.6 seconds left in the period.

The Phantoms had their fair share of chances, but Mackenzie Skapski stood tall, stopping 23 of the 24 shots he faced tonight to keep Lehigh Valley from tying things up.

Things got feisty in the final frame as some near fights broke out with Wolf Pack enforcer Nick Tarnasky looking for a dance partner. McDonald seemed to be his target and after the Phantoms captain declined, Tarnasky lined him up with a blatant charge that gave the Phantoms an early third period power play.

Lehigh Valley couldn't find an equalizer and with 2:48 left to play, the Wolf Pack cashed in on a power play of their own to ice the game at a 3-1 count.


Anthony Stolarz (23 saves - 26 shots) got the start in net for the fourth straight game tonight for the Phantoms. Martin Ouellette served as the team's backup.

Christian Marti was injured after taking a big time hit in Providence late in the 2nd period. Bruins forward Andrew Cherniwchan was assessed a major for boarding on the play. Marti never returned. Gordon said Marti is out tomorrow and needs to see the doctor and that he'll be out for a bit.

The Phantoms called up Jesper Pettersson from the ECHL and he replaced Marti in the lineup.

Up front, Kevin Sundher was scratched and Brandon Alderson replaced him in the lineup. Coach Gordon said Sundher had been dealing with a nagging injury and they kept him out to rest.

Phantoms Scratches: Cole Bardreau (injured), Kevin Sundher (healthy), (Michael Parks (injured), Matt Lashoff (healthy/veteran), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran) & Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Danick Martel - Tim Brent (A) - Aaron Palushaj
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Kevin Goumas - Colin McDonald (C)
Evan Rankin - Pavel Padakin - Brandon Alderson

Andrew MacDonald (A) - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Jesper Pettersson

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

0:29: HFD - Skjei (1) - Adam, Bodie
3:21: HFD - Adam (3) - Hughes, Megna
10:09: HFD - (PP) Hrivik, minor (hooking)
10:25: LV - (PP) Conner, minor (holding)

2nd Period

3:43: LV - Straka (11) - Cousins, Alt
17:21: LV - (PP) McDonald, minor (check to the head)
19:52: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (closing hand on puck)

3rd Period

3:41: HFD - (PP) Tarnasky, minor (charging)
14:48: LV - Padakin, minor (unsportsmanlike)
14:48: HFD - Glass, minor (unsportsmanlike)
16:12: LV - (PP) Cousins, minor (slashing)
17:22: HFD - PPG Glass (2) - Gibbons, Bodie


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