Phantoms Hold Off Falcons For Friday Night Win

Friday, February 19, 2016
The Phantoms kick off three-game weekend with big win over Springfield. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms entered the weekend needing wins and points in the standings. Despite going down 1-0 halfway through the first period, the Phantoms tallied two unanswered goals in the middle frame and held on in the third behind 37 saves from Anthony Stolarz in route to a big 2-1 win over the Springfield Falcons Friday night.

Cole Bardreau got things started in the second period for Lehigh Valley, stuffing home a loose puck in the crease 2:19 into the middle frame to even the score. Aaron Palushaj finished off his breakaway set up by Petr Straka with 2:46 left before the second intermission to put the Phantoms in front heading into the third - a lead that Stolarz and the Phantoms would hold onto for the 2-1 win.

The Phantoms' win sets up a big Saturday night match up against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who lead Lehigh Valley by eight points for fifth place in the Atlantic Division.

Scoreboard Watching:
 A fifth place finish could vault the Phantoms into the postseason if they have more points in the standings than the fourth place team in the Eastern Conference's other division, the North. In the event that scenario becomes true, the fifth place team in the Atlantic would crossover and become the fourth seed in the North Division.


Scott Gordon on the big win to start the weekend:
In three-in-threes, it's always nice when you get that first one. I thought we had our moments where we were very good and we had our moments where we struggled. At the end of the day we found a way to win, and that's important.
Gordon on Stolarz:
He had a really good week of practice. There was one day I was watching him make some saves and was like wow that looks like the guy we saw all year. It didn't surprise me that he bounced back and that's ultimately I decided to go with - he looked like he was ready.
Anthony Stolarz on his response, team's response:
For me, I think the biggest thing was going in there and trying to bounce back from last week. Just put it in the back of my head and forget about it. I had a good week of practice, working on things that I caught myself doing wrong.
Stolarz on facing 38 shots tonight:
Tonight, the guys played a great game. We gave up 38 shots, but a lot of them came from the outside and a lot of were shots from the point that I was able to see so credit to them.
Stolarz on needing wins down the stretch:
We kind of dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole and time isn't really on our side so we just have to go out in every game... tomorrow is like a four-point swing if we beat them they cant gain any ground on us. We just have to play like we did tonight in all three zones. It's a good building game for us and hopefully we can keep it going.
Aaron Palushaj's thoughts:
I had a fortunate bounce on my breakaway and I buried my chance, but that was a huge power play goal earlier in the period for us. We closed it out, Stolie played really well.
Palushaj on adjustment he made tonight:
I was trying to shoot the puck a little more tonight than I had been all season. It paid off. I think I could have had a few more, but I'll take the one.

Strange bounces and bad breaks highlighted the first period tonight between the Phantoms and Falcons.

About six minutes into play, Falcons forward Jordan Szwarz had a mostly empty net to shoot at - Stolarz was sliding from his left to right as a last ditch effort - but caught the crossbar and far-side post before bouncing to the corner. Springfield challenged the ruling and thought the puck crossed the line, but upon review the referees upheld the no-goal call.

After the Phantoms were unsuccessful on their first man advantage attempt of the night, an errant turnover at the defensive zone blue line allowed Springfield's leading scorer Greg Carey to break in and give the Falcons a 1-0 lead. Carey picked up the bouncing puck off of Max Lamarche's stick and beat Stolarz with 9:10 left in the opening period.

Lehigh Valley had a chance to tie things up late in opening period after Cole Bardreau exited the penalty box with 6:44 left. Bardreau caught a floating pass at center ice in stride and skated in all alone but his shot went high and wide.

Despite trailing 1-0 heading into the second frame, it was a pretty evenly played first period. Minus the bad bounce that led to Springfield's goal, the shots were 13-12 in favor of the Falcons and both teams had their chances.

The Phantoms evened the score early in the second period after a flurry of chances on an early period power play. Petr Straka's initial shot was stopped by Marek Langhamer, before Chris Conner almost tucked one in at the near side post. The puck bounced out to Straka in the slot and amidst heavy traffic in the crease Cole Bardreau was able to stuff one home to tie things up 2:15 into the middle frame.

From there, the Falcons had the advantage in terms of puck possession and controlling play. At one point later in the period, the Phantoms went a good six minutes without a shot. Instead, the Phantoms made their next shot count as Aaron Palushaj took a pass from Straka and finished off his breakaway with a nice series of dekes to open up the goalie's five-hole. Palushaj's 10th of the season with 2:46 left in the period was a big time goal to give Lehigh Valley the lead heading to the third.

In the third, the Phantoms had two early power play chances go by the wayside but they were able to hold onto their one-goal lead and only allow 10 shots in the final frame after giving up 28 shots in the first 40 minutes of play.


Anthony Stolarz (37 saves - 38 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms after being pulled in his last start Saturday against Utica. Jason LaBarbera served as the team's backup and is expected to get the start Saturday night against Bridgeport.

Andrew MacDonald was recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers before the Phantoms took the ice for warm up last weekend. He was the team's leading scorer, while leading all AHL defensemen in assists (31) at the time of his recall.

MacDonald's departure allows all remaining seven defensemen to get in the lineup. The Phantoms have gone with an 11 forward, 7 defensemen lineup for 13 straight games now.

Pavel Padakin was reassigned to Reading on Wednesday and played one game with the Royals Wednesday night before re-joining the Phantoms on Thursday.

Padakin returned to the lineup tonight for Lehigh Valley, as Colin McDonald (upper body) missed tonight's game with an injury he suffered on Saturday. It's a minor ailment and doesn't appear to be serious, but McDonald will likely be out for all three games this weekend.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Pavel Padakin (healthy), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery), Jay Rosehill (undisclosed) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Pavel Padakin
Taylor Leier (A) - Phil DeSimone - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - Aaron Palushaj
Tyrell Goulbourne - Joe Rehkamp - xxxxxxxxxxxx

Davis Drewiske - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt (A)
Christian Marti - Max Lamarche
Adam Comrie

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

1:58: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, minor (slashing)
8:22: SPR - (PP) H. Samuelsson, minor (interference)
10:50: SPR - Carey (21) - unassisted
11:16: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (high-sticking)
12:41: LV - (PP) Marti, minor (slashing)

2nd Period

1:45: SPR - (PP) H. Samuelsson, minor (hooking)
2:19: LV - PPG Bardreau (8) - Straka, Conner
6:42: LV - Bardreau, major (fighting)
6:42: SPR - (PP) P. Samuelsson, minor (cross-checking)
6:42: SPR - P. Samuelsson, major (fighting)
7:15: LV - (PP) Palushaj, minor (interference)
17:14: LV - Palushaj (10) - Straka

3rd Period

0:37: SPR - (PP) Jeffrey, minor (delay of game)
4:54: SPR - (PP) Selleck, minor (hooking)
11:59: LV - (PP) Drewiske, minor (tripping)


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