Phantoms End Skid, Defeat Bridgeport 4-1

Sunday, January 17, 2016
Phantoms stop the skid in Bridgeport Sunday at Webster Bank Arena.
Tonight in Bridgeport at the tail end of a three-in-three weekend, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms end the five-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers behind a strong performance from Jason LaBarbera in net (42 saves on 43 shots).

The real difference between tonight's game and the five previous was that the Phantoms were able to finish their chances. Taylor Leier and Chris Conner were able to give the Phantoms a 2-0 lead in the first period after several great saves from LaBarbera and Danick Martel and Kevin Goumas extended the lead with two goals 30 seconds apart early in the third period.

For Lehigh Valley, the win comes at a good time as it not only ends a five-game losing streak but also gives the locker room some momentum heading into a lengthy layoff. Their next game is not until Saturday night in Hershey.

"It's always nice to have a week off when you win your previous game," a satisfied Scott Gordon said after the win.


Scott Gordon on ending the losing skid:
It's obviously been tough with the five losses generating as many chances as we have and not scoring. Tonight, even the ones we didn't score on were quality chances. It's good to see some finally hit the back of the net.
Gordon on LaBarbera:
We start the game first ten minutes and they get two power plays. It's so hard to get momentum early. That first 10 minutes he made some big saves for us and kept it a 0-0 score and we went for there.
Chris Conner on goals in three straight:
It was a good team win. We needed a win and it was nice to play with the lead instead of from behind. I think that was big for us. We have to take this one in stride and move onto the next.
Conner on LaBarbera:
LaBarbera was the best player out there tonight. He kept us in the game and throughout the whole game they were pushing. We were able to put our chances in and stick with it and he held us in there. It was a great team win.
Jason LaBarbera on ending the skid, knowing he needed strong performance:
Especially being an older guy you know. We've been playing pretty decently but just finding ways to lose games so it's like, let's come out with a good first and give the guys a good feeling going in. They were kind of struggling too so they came out with lots of offensive zone time and stuff and we were able to hold the fort and score a couple goals. 

The Phantoms got off to a bit of a slow start Sunday in Bridgeport, getting out shot 10-2 in the opening nine minutes of play. If not for some excellent saves from Jason LaBarbera early and often, Lehigh Valley could have found themselves down and out.

Instead, after killing off a pair of Bridgeport power plays, the Phantoms got a power play of their own and cashed in. Sam Gagner's shot from the point was stopped by Parker Milner, but the rebound went into the slot where Taylor Leier crashed the net and found the puck - putting it past the Bridgeport goaltender 11:43 into the opening frame to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead despite being out shot 11-4 at that point.

It was a feisty first period between two teams who entered the game on separate five game losing streaks. After Chris Conner took a big hit from Kyle Burroughs, Tim Brent stood up for his teammate and dropped the gloves in a spirited fight early in the period. Later, Conner was hooked on a breakaway and then tripped by the Milner as he came through the crease - landing into the end boards hard. Nick Cousins followed it up and came flying in to put a hit on a Bridgeport defender in the corner, which started a scrum and saw both Cousins and Florek assessed four minutes each for roughing.

After the penalties were sorted out, Conner was awarded a penalty shot and made it count - going forehand to backhand on Milner and sliding one in past the Sound Tigers goalie to give the Phantoms a 2-0 lead with 6:54 left in the first frame.

In a bit of a reversal from Friday night's game against Hershey, the Phantoms were badly out shot in the opening period 18-9, but had a 2-0 lead heading into the middle frame.

The Sound Tigers continued to out shoot the Phantoms in the second period and again LaBarbera needed to be to the task. It wasn't until there was 2:45 left before the second intermission that Bridgeport ended LaBarbera's shutout bid.

With the Phantoms on the penalty kill, Kevin Czuczman kept a puck in the zone and got it to Burroughs who bank pass off the glass to Mike Halmo eventually connected after hitting Halmo in the chest and bouncing down in front of him on his stick. Halmo's quick corral and shoot from the slot beat LaBarbera to cut the Phantoms lead in half at 2-1 heading to the third period.

Lehigh Valley didn't shell up to start the 3rd period with their one-goal lead. Instead, they went to an early power play after Connor Jones boarded Cole Bardreau and although they didn't score on the man advantage, they made it 3-1 shortly after the penalty had expired.

Cousins got the puck to Conner in the corner, who made a nifty cross-ice pass from a bad angle right to Danick Martel in front of the net who got a stick on it and past Milner to make it 3-1 Phantoms 2:37 into the period.

On the next shift, the Phantoms' fourth line broke the game open. Kevin Goumas picked a corner on Milner 30 seconds after Martel's goal to make it a 4-1 Phantoms lead. Goumas' linemates Bardreau and Tyrell Goulbourne added assists on the play.

The Phantoms held on from there behind 42 saves from Jason LaBarbera to end the five-game losing skid with a 4-1 win.


Jason LaBarbera (42 saves - 43 shots) got the start in net this evening for the Phantoms in Bridgeport. Anthony Stolarz served as the back up after starting in last night's game against Hartford.

Besides the change in net, there weren't any other lineup changes for the Phantoms.

Petr Straka remains out of the lineup due to injury, missing his third straight game.

The veteran scratches also remained the same as Aaron Palushaj, Matt Lashoff and Jay Rosehill were healthy scratches.

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

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

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

Andrew MacDonald - Max Lamarche
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Davis Drewiske - Robert Hagg
Christian Marti

Jason LaBarbera - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

1:46: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (hooking)
6:21: LV - (PP) Brent, minor (roughing)
6:21: LV - Brent, major (fighting)
6:21: BST - Burroughs, major (fighting)
10:55: BST - (PP) Czuczman, minor (cross-checking)
13:06: LV - Cousins, double-minor (roughing)
13:06: BST - Florek, double-minor (roughing)
13:06: LV - Conner (8) - Penalty Shot
18:33: LV - (PP) Martel, minor (slashing)
19:07: BST - (PP) Cullity, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

9:02: BST - Holmstrom, minor (holding)
9:02: LV - Martel, minor (embellishment)
15:47: LV - (PP) Gagner, minor (hooking)
17:15: BST - PPG Halmo (6) - Burroughs, Czuczman

3rd Period

0:28: BST - (PP) Jones, minor (boarding)
2:37: LV - Martel (14) - Conner, Cousins
3:07: LV - Goumas (4) - Bardreau, Goulbourne
5:31: LV - Goumas, minor (roughing)
5:31: BST - Leduc, minor (roughing)
19:04: LV - Leier, double-minor (roughing)
19:04: BST - Graham, double-minor (roughing)


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