Phantoms Finish Five-Game Road Trip With Win

Sunday, January 3, 2016
Jason LaBarbera has won his last three starts and put forth a strong effort in Portland.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (17-16-2-1) are over the .500 mark for the first time this season following a 2-1 win over the Portland Pirates to complete the five-game road trip - a road trip that saw them pick up points in each game going 3-0-2 while away from the PPL Center.

The Phantoms' penalty kill continues to come up big. They've now killed off 28 straight power plays and needed two big kills in the third period to hold onto their one goal lead. Jason LaBarbera was a big part of that, stopping 37 of 38 to pick up his third straight win.

Lehigh Valley jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Cole Bardreau and Nick Cousins, and despite being out shot 18-4 in the third period were able to hold on for the win and head back to Allentown on a positive note.

After the jump, thoughts from head coach Scott Gordon, forward Cole Bardreau and goaltender Jason LaBarbera.


Scott Gordon on surviving the third period Portland shooting gallery:
I think a lot of the time they were just trying to get pucks to the net and they did a good job with that. We started off on the power play and it was pretty ugly. That kind of set the tempo for the period. There wasn't a whole lot of 5-on-5 time for us in the offensive zone with the penalties and turnovers.
Gordon on the success of the penalty kill:
It's not one thing. It's a lot of stuff. From our fore-checking game, our in-zone positioning of the defensemen, the position of our sticks, It's just a lot of little things that add up to one big thing. As a result, we have much more consistency and on top of that the goalies have been great.
Gordon on LaBarbera and being confident in both goalies:
Especially for LaBarbera, what he went through with his injury and trying to fight through it. It was good for him to take the time off and for Stolarz to step in and play as well as he did was huge for us. It's great that we have them both.
Cole Bardreau on his 1st period goal:
I think that's a perfect example of what our line likes to bring. We like to bring energy, get in on the fore-check and cause disruptions behind the net. Those guys were working hard and got the puck to me and I just tried to fire one on net and luckily it went.
Bardreau on the PK:
I think everyone is just buying in. Everyone's feeding off each other and no one is trying to do too much. We're just following the system and when you're following the system things tend to work.
Bardreau on the successful road trip:
Anytime you can get points and keep a streak going, especially on the road when it's a little bit tougher, we like that.
Jason LaBarbera on the pulse of the room:
It's just nice to be over .500. It was kind of the barrier for the last few months and we couldn't get over the hump. This team doesn't show a lot of emotion but I think the guys are pretty happy in there.
LaBarbera on the 3rd period:
They obviously turned it up a little bit, but we did a good job defending. Our D did a great job of boxing guys out and blocking shots. Anytime you get a win like that and the goalie plays well, it usually means the guys in front of you are good.

Much like last night's affair between these two teams, it was a fast-paced first 20 minutes with few whistles and good end to end action.

Both teams were unable to convert on shortened power plays in the opening six minutes, but the Phantoms got on the board first with a late 1st period tally by Cole Bardreau. After a good cycle by the fourth line, Tyrell Goulbourne got the puck to Bardreau at the right wing face-off circle and Bardreau wasted no time, turning and shooting one past Pirates goaltender Sam Brittain with 3:11 left in the 1st period to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

The pace slowed up in the second period, but not before Nick Cousins hustled and won a race to a loose puck behind the Pirates' net to extend the Phantoms' lead to 2-0. Cousins got to the loose puck and quickly fed it to an open Danick Martel in front for Martel's 13th of the season and third goal in his last three games at the 8:27 mark.

From there, things got a bit chippy - much expected when facing the same team in back-to-back nights. 

Bardreau got the best of Pirates' forward Kyle Rau with a big hit along the boards and Rau's teammate Michael Matheson took exception, following Bardreau to the Phantoms' bench and shoving him through the open bench door. Bardreau and Matheson got matching roughing minors, but the Phantoms got their first full power play of the game as Matheson got the extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike with 7:28 left in the middle frame.

A similar situation broke out with 3:44 to play in the 2nd period as Matt Lashoff and Rob Flick dropped their gloves. Again, both were assessed matching roughing penalties but this time an extra penalty to Lashoff put the Phantoms shorthanded. While on the power play, Rocco Grimaldi tumbled to the ice and drew a tripping minor on Sam Morin but the Phantoms were able to kill off the 18 seconds of 5-on-3 time before Rob Schremp negated the rest of the Pirates power play with an interference penalty.

The Phantoms took the 2-0 lead to the third period, which saw them begin the final frame with 55 seconds of carry over power play time. After they failed to convert, the Pirates made it a one-goal game.

Rocco Grimaldi fed Shane Harper on a 3-on-2 rush and Harper buried one past LaBarbera 1:59 into the final frame to cut the Phantoms lead in half.

From there, the Pirates continued to fire pucks on net and out shot the Phantoms 18-4 in the 3rd period but the Phantoms defense and goaltending was able to get the job done to complete the five-game road trip with a win.


Jason LaBarbera (37 saves - 38 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms this afternoon after backing up Anthony Stolarz here in Portland last night.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald sat out tonight for a maintenance day. 

Forward Aaron Palushaj was also scratched today with an illness.

Replacing them in the lineup were two defensemen - Matt Lashoff and Max Lamarche,

Scratches: Christian Marti (upper body since 11/20), Evan Rankin (undisclosed since 12/19), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27) Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Aaron Palushaj (illness), Brandon Alderson (healthy), Chris Conner (upper body since 11/28), Jay Rosehill (healthy/veteran), Logan Pyett (out indefinitely) and Andrew MacDonald (maintenance day/veteran)


Petr Straka - Tim Brent (A) - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier - Nick Cousins - Sam Gagner
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - xxxxx
Tyrell Goulbourne - Cole Bardreau - Joe Rehkamp

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

Jason LaBarbera - Anthony Stolarz


1st Period

4:02: LV - (PP) McDonald, minor (hooking)
5;34: POR - (PP) Grimaldi, minor (tripping)
16:11: LV - Bardreau (2) - Goulbourne, Rehkamp

2nd Period

8:27: LV - Martel (13) - Cousins
12:32: LV - Bardreau, minor (roughing)
12:32: POR - Matheson, minor (roughing)
12:32: POR - (PP) Matheson, minor (unsportsmanlike)
16:16: LV - Lashoff, minor (roughing)
16:16: LV - (PP) Lashoff, minor (unsportsmanlike)
16:16: POR - Flick, minor (roughing)
17:58: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (tripping)
18:55: POR - (PP) Schremp, minor (interference)

3rd Period

1:59: POR - Harper (5) - Grimaldi, Olsen
6:32: LV - (PP) Pettersson, minor (hooking)
11:46: LV - (PP) Leier, minor (hooking)


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