Saturday's Morning Skate 1/9

Saturday, January 9, 2016
Phantoms and Penguins battled Friday night at the PPL Center. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
It's a busy weekend in the Eastern Conference as all 15 teams were in action last night and will be again tonight as teams start to approach the halfway point of the 2015-16 season. It's never too early to start talking playoffs, and with their successful five-game road trip last week the Phantoms have put themselves in the conversation - sitting just four points out of fourth place in the Atlantic Division for the final playoff spot.

Tonight, the Phantoms are on the road in Albany as they continue their 3-in-3 weekend slate. Of course, there's only one way to keep up with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms when they're away from home and that's by tuning in both here on the website and on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock as I bring more exclusive road coverage of the team that you cannot get anywhere else. No one brings you closer to the action and pulse of the locker room.

Andrew MacDonald didn't make the trip to Albany and remains out with an undisclosed lower body injury. MacDonald's equipment remained in his locker stall after Friday night's game, but Petr Straka's was packed up and it appears as though he traveled with the team and could return to the lineup tonight. Make sure you're following me on Twitter for all the latest news and updates.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 1/8's games)

1. W-B/Scranton: 34 games played, 25-8-0-1 = 51 points (.750 PCT)
2. Portland: 33 games played, 19-13-1-0 = 39 points (.591 PCT)
3. Hershey: 36 games played, 18-12-1-5 = 42 points (.583 PCT)
4. Bridgeport: 37 games played, 19-15-2-1 = 41 points (.554 PCT)
5. Lehigh Valley: 37 games played, 17-17-3-1 = 37 points (.500 PCT)
6. Providence: 35 games played, 14-15-5-1 = 34 points (.486 PCT)
7. Springfield: 34 games played, 14-18-1-1 = 30 points (.441 PCT)
8. Hartford: 35 games played, 14-19-2-0 = 30 points (.429 PCT)

Would you like to see my coverage of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms while they're on the road continue? Please lend a helping hand to keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a generous donation to my GoFundMe page.

Around The Atlantic

W-B/Scranton - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 3

In a wild first period that saw the two teams combine for seven goals, the Penguins held onto their 4-3 lead from the first period all the way to the final horn despite being largely outplayed by the Phantoms Friday night at the PPL Center.

Josh Archibald led the way for the Penguins with two first period goals. He came into the game with just one goal all season, but nearly tallied four goals Friday - having a goal called back after a review in the second period and flubbing an easy empty net chance in the final seconds.

Anthony Stolarz and Matt Murray were named All-Star goaltenders Thursday afternoon, but neither looked like All-Stars in the first period. Stolarz was pulled after allowing four goals on 11 shots in 15:54 of work and Murray allowed a goal on each of his first three shots before settling in to stop the final 17 he faced,

The Phantoms took an overnight bus ride to Albany for a 5 p.m. face-off with the Devils Saturday evening, while the Penguins returned home to host the Utica Comets tonight.

Bridgeport - 4 at Providence - 5

Another high-scoring affair in the Atlantic Division saw the PBruins hold off the Sound Tigers at home by a 5-4 final score.

The PBruins never trailed, getting two goals from Anton Blidh - the second of which came shorthanded early in the third to give the home team a 5-2 lead they would never surrender. The Sound Tigers made a game of it, getting back-to-back goals by Jared Gomes to cut the deficit to one but that would be as close as they would get.

Recently re-assigned Christopher Gibson allowed five goals on 30 shots in the loss, while Malcolm Subban stopped 23 of 27 to earn the win.

Bridgeport continues their weekend road trip Saturday with a stop in nearby Hartford, while the PBruins head to Springfield.

Springfield - 3 at Hartford - 2 

Hartford dropped their third straight game in a back-and-forth contest with Springfield Friday night. The Falcons.

Ross Mauermann tallied two goals to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead, but Hartford evened things up in the 2nd period on goals from Chris McCarthy and Nick Tarnasky. Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack, Craig Cunningham scored for the Falcons in the final minute of regulation to hand Hartford the loss.

Nicklas Treutle stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced to pick up the win for Springfield, while Jeff Malcolm allowed three goals on 29 shots in a losing effort for the Wolf Pack.

Springfield returns home to face Providence, while Hartford heads home to host Bridgeport Saturday.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Portland - 5 at St. John's - 1
Syracuse - 4 at Albany - 6
Utica - 3 at Binghamton - 6 
Hershey - 4 at Rochester - 5
Toronto - 3 at Manitoba - 0

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Lehigh Valley at Albany, 5:00 p.m. ET
Portland at St. John's, 6:00 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at Hartford, 7:00 p.m. ET
Providence at Springfield, 7:00 p.m. ET
Hershey at Syracuse, 7:00 p.m. ET
Rochester at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Utica at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. ET
Toronto at Manitoba, 8:00 p.m. ET


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