Phantoms Squander Three-Goal Third Period Lead in OT Loss to Penguins

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Carter Rowney (center, #17) tallied two goals tonight to lead Penguins past Phantoms: Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
After scoring five combined goals in their last four games, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms ended their scoring drought tonight in Wilkes-Barre against the rival Penguins to the tune of five goals. Unfortunately, they let a 5-2 third period lead slip away in a more than disappointing 6-5 overtime loss.

The Penguins rallied for three unanswered goals in the third period to force overtime, the last of which was scored with 4.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Carter Rowney, who was announced today to have signed his first NHL contract, tallied his second goal of the night with 1:32 left in the extra session to lift Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a big time come-from-behind win in a game that they looked dead in the water through 40 minutes.

The overtime loss doesn't do much for Lehigh Valley, who not only squanders an extra point but the all important win which is the difference in standings. Winning percentage decides which teams are in the postseason and which ones end their season in mid-April.

Standings Watch

With the point gained in the standings, the Phantoms move to within eight points of fifth place Bridgeport for the final playoff spot. The bad news is that the Sound Tigers have two games in hand on Lehigh Valley.

Portland is only six points ahead of the Phantoms for fourth place in the division, but they have four games in hand on Lehigh Valley and with no more regular season meetings left with the Pirates it will be difficult to catch up.


Scott Gordon's thoughts:
For me, the biggest thing is we weren't winning any face-offs. We start without the puck and really just playing care-free. As it turns out, we didn't handle the pressure very well. A lot of the goals are just missed coverage in front on point shots. You have to have that coverage, that's basically what it comes down to.
Gordon on getting a point:
Still, it's a 5-2 lead in the third period. We didn't do a good job in front of our net. The missed coverage in front is something we got away from tonight, we have actually been really good in front of our net the last few games. Sometimes it gets away from you and it did tonight.
Danick Martel on team scoring five goals:
After two periods, we were where we wanted. When we came out for the third period, we didn't play how we should have been playing. [Five goals for] is a good sign, but we have to bounce back Saturday.
Martel on what went wrong:
Like you saw on the last goal 6-on-5, they had two sticks on the puck before we had one.For sure battling in front of the net, but it all started when we didn't put the puck deep enough in their zone to go forecheck. We turned it over and it comes back in our zone and now we're tired and that's why we aren't battling [hard enough] in front of the net. We didn't play the way we should have.
Martel on getting one point:
It's not really making a difference - one point or not. We need wins, we need to wins percentage. It's a waste of a game for nothing, an OT loss. We need to win these games.

After scoring just once on 71 shots over the weekend, the Phantoms scored twice on their first four shots tonight in Wilkes-Barre on Penguins' goaltender Brian Foster.

First, Aaron Palushaj pushed a puck behind the net where Danick Martel won a puck battle and sent it in front to Kevin Goumas in the slot for Goumas' 6th of the season 5:54 into the contest to put Lehigh Valley ahead 1-0.

The Penguins tied things up after gaining momentum on an unsuccessful power play, with a Steve Oleksy point shot eluding traffic on its way past Anthony Stolarz with 9:14 left in the opening frame.

Lehigh Valley responded quickly, again generating offense from getting pucks deep. Adam Comrie sent a puck down low to Petr Straka, who found Cole Bardreau in the right-wing face-off circle. Straka's pass to Bardreau was on the money and from the face-off dot Bardreau fired a quick shot past Foster just 1:12 after the Pens had tied it up to regain the Phantoms' lead at 2-1.

The flood gates began to open for the Phantoms in the middle frame, as they extended their lead to 3-1 just 1:16 into the period. Chris Conner from behind the net got one out in front to Phil DeSimone for his 5th of the season on a goal similiar to the first two Lehigh Valley scored - getting the puck down low and setting up in front.

After a Tim Erixon slashing minor put the Phantoms on the power play, Adam Comrie wound up and blasted an absolute rocket past Foster to make it a 4-1 lead for Lehigh Valley. Taylor Leier added his second assist of the night while Bardreau (one goal, one assist) added his second point of the night as well.

From there, the Penguins began to gain momentum and hold an edge in play - drawing a Phantoms' bench minor for too many men and capitalizing on the man advantage. Carter Rowney, who signed his first NHL contract earlier today inking a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, re-directed Will O'Neill's point shot past Stolarz to cut the Phantoms lead to 4-2 at the 8:14 mark.

The Pens had their chances to make it a one-goal game, including a Derek Army bid at what looked like an empty net with Stolarz down and out. Somehow, Stolarz threw his left leg out and robbed Army of a goal with a pad save.

Lehigh Valley got a late period power play and made the most of it, extending their lead to 5-2 heading to the third period. Danick Martel was alone in front and was able to re-direct Max Lamarche's point shot past Foster for his team-leading 21st goal of the season. The 21 tallies have Martel tied for 2nd among AHL rookies in goals.

The Phantoms killed off some carry over power play time to start the third frame and appeared to be well on their way to an easy win up 5-2 with about 16 and a half minutes to play. Instead, a tripping penalty on Christian Marti gave the Pens momentum and they made it interesting in a hurry.

Kael Mouillierat found a loose puck atop the crease on the ensuing man advantage and tapped one in to cut the Phantoms' lead to 5-3. Just 44 seconds later, Jarrett Burton took a pass from his linemate Derek Army and skated down the right wing before going bar down on Stolarz to make it a one-goal game with 14:46 left in regulation.

The Penguins' persistence paid off in the final seconds as Jean-Sebastien Dea found a bouncing puck at the side of the net to tie the game at 5-5 with 4.1 seconds left, forcing overtime. Rowney's 2nd goal of the night completed the comeback for the Penguins in the extra session.


Anthony Stolarz (35 saves - 41 shots) made his 11th straight start in net tonight for the Phantoms. Martin Ouellette has been reassigned to Reading, meaning Jason LaBarbera returned in a backup role.

Defenseman Mark Alt practiced Monday, but did not skate Tuesday in practice. Alt did not play tonight, but he's not believed to be out long term.

Tim Brent and Kevin Sundher skated in a regular jersey at practice in Whitehall this week, and both are getting closer to returning to the lineup.

The college free agent frenzy has begun, and the Philadelphia Flyers made a splash in signing Reading, PA native Steven Swavely to an amateur tryout contract. Swavely just finished his senior season at the University of Maine, where he captained the Black Bears this season.

Scratches: Mark Alt (undisclosed), Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Jason LaBarbera (upper body), Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery) and Logan Pyett (out indefinitely).

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

Petr Straka - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier (A) - Phil DeSimone - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Kevin Goumas - Aaron Palushaj
Dalton Smith - Joe Rehkamp - Jay Rosehill

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

Anthony Stolarz - Jason LaBarbera


1st Period

5:54: LV - Goumas (6) - Martel, Palushaj
7:48: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, minor (holding)
10:46: WBS - Oleksy (2) - Kostopoulos, Plactha
11:58: LV - Bardreau (11) - Straka, Comrie

2nd Period

1:16: LV - DeSimone (5) - Conner, Leier
4:28: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (slashing)
5:14: LV - PPG Comrie (4) - Leier, Bardreau
6:59: LV - (PP) bench minor, too many men
8:14: WBS - PPG Rowney (18) - O'Neill, Kostopoulos
14:58: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (interference)
16:23: LV - PPG Martel (21) - Lamarche, Palushaj
19:42: LV - (PP) Straka, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

4:32: LV - (PP) Marti, minor (tripping)
5:30: WBS - PPG Mouillierat (14) - Kostopoulos, O'Neill
6:14: WBS - Burton (1) - Army, Erixon
19:55: WBS - Dea (16) - Kostopoulos, Jeffrey


3:28: WBS - Rowney (19) - Erixon, Kostopoulos


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