Phantoms Come Up Short To Penguins In Wild First Period

Friday, January 8, 2016
Penguins pull out of Allentown with a 4-3 win in a wild first period.
After an eventful first period that saw the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins combine for seven goals in a span of under 12 minutes, the two teams settled things down and played a scoreless final 40. Unfortunately for the Phantoms, they were on the other side of a 4-3 score tonight in a one-goal loss to their Atlantic Division rival Penguins.

Both teams started their goaltenders who were recently named to the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse scheduled for the end of this month, but their performances in the first period were contrary to the way they've played this season. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray allowed goals on his first three shots of the hockey game, while Anthony Stolarz surrendered four goals on 11 shots in 15:54 of play before being pulled in favor of Jason LaBarbera.

The Phantoms have no time to think on this one. By the time reporters got to the locker room for post-game interviews most of the players had already packed up their equipment to give equipment manager Andy Rannells a head start on packing the team's bus for an overnight trip to Albany, New York, where the Phantoms will take on the Albany Devils Saturday evening at a rare 5:00 pm. face-off.

After the jump, some quick thoughts from the locker room.


Scott Gordon on calming the bench down in a frantic first period:
I think it all happened so quickly. One thing I will say is the bench was pretty composed from a players standpoint. They didn't get rattled by it. They played a lot of hockey last week and I think in their minds we were going to be in the game and as it turned out we were.
Gordon on the five forward look on power play:
Our first power play tonight was five forwards anyway. That had nothing to do with the 5-on-3. We didn't have AMac playing tonight and he's our top guy. We have a surplus of forwards that are accustomed to playing power play. [Gagner] has played some point on the power play before, Brent has been a defenseman [on the power play] all year.
Chris Conner on getting back into the lineup:
It feels great. Obviously sitting out isn't fun. I just wished we had gotten a better result tonight. We just have to get back at it tomorrow.
Conner on the 1st period:
I was kind of excited. There was a lot of goal scoring so maybe I could get one tonight. I think we did a good job of climbing back, hit a couple posts. That's just how the game went.
Conner on needing to pick up wins:
I think at some point this time of the season you have to start winning those games. Sometimes that makes a difference at the end of year. We have to figure it out and start getting more points.

The Penguins got off to a good start on the Phantoms tonight in a wild 1st period at the PPL Center. Two goals just 51 seconds apart in the opening 5:01 put Lehigh Valley in a 2-0 hole.

First, Sahir Gill got a puck back to Niclas Andersen at the blue line. Andersen's intended shot on goal actually caught a piece of Josh Archibald up high and changed direction on its way past Anthony Stolarz. It was just Archibald's 2nd goal of the season, but he was in the right place at the right time.

The Phantoms nearly tied it up on the next shift, but instead the Penguins capitalized on a Phantoms' turnover behind their own net and Dominik Uher stuffed one past Stolarz to extend the Pens' lead.

Then, the Phantoms got on the attack,

Nick Cousins won a puck race along the half-wall in the offensive zone and hit Taylor Leier streaking down the middle of the ice to cut the Phantoms' deficit in half at the 6:47 mark. Leier had just got on the ice for his shift and flew into the offensive zone to pick up Cousins' pass and fire one past Matt Murray.

Less than two minutes later, the Phantoms got a pair of their own quick goals - tallying two just 23 seconds apart to take a 3-2 lead. First, Sam Gagner scored his first career AHL goal - re-directing a Mark Alt point shot in past Murray. Then, Sam Morin jumped into the play on a 3-on-2 rush and put home the rebound of a Cole Bardreau shot on the next shift.

The goal scoring in the opening period wasn't done there either. The Penguins tied things up at 3-3 after a nice move by Conor Sheary to shake a Phantoms defender. Stolarz made the initial save but lost track of the rebound, which Scott Wilson came in and cleaned up for his 16th of the season with 8:10 left in the 1st period,

Archibald ended the scoring in the first period with 4:06 left in it, collecting a puck along the boards and flinging one towards the net from the left-wing circle that eluded Stolarz to make it 4-3 Penguins. Stolarz's night was over after that goal, as Jason LaBarbera entered the game after Stolarz surrendered four goals on 11 shots.

After a goal-filled first 20 minutes, the second period was played without any goals scored for either team. There was still great end-to-end action, but neither team was able to finish their chances. Two series of plays in particular stood out.

The Penguins took back-to-back penalties 20 seconds apart seven minutes into the period, giving the Phantoms 1:40 of 5-on-3 power play time. Lehigh Valley pressured for the first 55 seconds before taking a timeout to regroup for the last 45 seconds. The last 45 seconds was chaotic, as two of the three Penguins penalty killers broke their sticks. Somehow, the Phantoms weren't able to get shots through and past Murray and the Pens narrowly escaped a tense situation.

Then, a close call on a goal review went the Phantoms way on a goal that frankly should have counted. Josh Archibald looked to complete his hat trick with 4:32 left in the period. The goal judge behind LaBarbera's net turned the light on but after a review it was deemed to not be a goal.

The third period was much of the same. The Phantoms had the better of it for large portions of the final frame but were unable to find an equalizer.


Anthony Stolarz (7 saves - 11 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms. He was pulled with 4:06 left in the first period and relieved by Jason LaBarbera (12 saves - 12 shots)

Defenseman Christian Marti had been out of action since November 20th, but has been re-assigned to Reading (ECHL) to get in some games.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald (undisclosed) did not practice at all this week and missed the team's last game Sunday in Portland and was not in the lineup tonight.

Forwards Evan Rankin and Aaron Palushaj are healthy now. Palushaj returned to the lineup tonight after a one game absence, while Rankin sat out tonight as a healthy scratch.

Chris Conner skated in practice yesterday in a regular jersey as did Petr Straka, but only Conner returned to the lineup tonight for the Phantoms. It was Conner's first game back since November 28th.

Scratches: Evan Rankin (healthy), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Petr Straka (lower body) Matt Lashoff (healthy/veteran), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran), Logan Pyett (out indefinitely) and Andrew MacDonald (undisclosed/veteran)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Kevin Goumas - Tim Brent - Colin McDonald
Taylor Leier - Nick Cousins - Aaron Palushaj
Danick Martel - Sam Gagner - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Cole Bardreau - Joe Rehkamp

Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Jesper Pettersson
Robert Hagg - Maxim Lamarche

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

4:10: WBS - Archibald (2) - Andersen, Gill
5:01: WBS - Uher (4) - Kostopoulos, Dea
6:47: LV - Leier (9) - Cousins
8:23: LV - Gagner (1) - Alt, Martel
8:46: LV - Morin (3) - Bardreau, Rehkamp
11:50: WBS - Wilson (16) - Sheary, O'Neill
12:47: LV - (PP) Drewiske, minor (holding)
15:54: WBS - Archibald (3) - Loney, Oleksy

2nd Period

7:14: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (interference)
7:34: WBS - (PP) Rowney, minor (tripping)
16:22: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

8:17: LV - Cousins, minor (slashing)
8:17: WBS - Kostopoulos, minor (slashing)


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