Puck Luck Dooms Phantoms In Shutout Loss To Penguins

Friday, March 4, 2016
Phantoms shutout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the third time this season. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
Despite largely out-chancing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and throwing 36 shots on net, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-27-2-3) were shutout by their Atlantic Division rival for the third time this season in a disappointing 3-0 loss.

Strong goaltending from Tristan Jarry (36 saves) frustrated the Phantoms all night, while some inopportune bounces went the Penguins' way and helped them to a lead they would never surrender. At this time of the season, all it takes is a few mistakes or bounces to make the difference in a game.

The Phantoms dominated play in the first period only to have a bad bounce behind their net with Stolarz back to play the puck end up in their net. The back-breaker was the Pens' second goal with 15.7 seconds left after Lehigh Valley had three consecutive Grade-A chances in a matter of seconds stopped by Jarry.

Lehigh Valley enters a must-win game tomorrow in Binghamton to keep their realistic playoff hopes alive. Thoughts from a very quiet Phantoms locker room after the jump.

Scoreboard Watch: While it looked like the Phantoms were getting help from other teams around the league, as Portland lost in regulation to Syracuse, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers made an unbelievable comeback after trailing Providence 3-1 in the third period - tallying two goals in the final 25 seconds of regulation to force overtime before winning on a penalty shot goal in the extra session. The Phantoms loss combined with these results pushes Lehigh Valley seven points out of the final playoff spot with just 17 games left on their regular season schedule.


Scott Gordon's post-game thoughts:
The first period to me was all us. They had that bounce that his the linesmen's skate on the first goal that's realistically is a breakout for us. Other than that, it was a great first period. Second period we didn't have any puck luck at all. The goalie made some great saves, some of it a little lucky on his side, but when he wasn't lucky he was really good.
Gordon on back-breaking goal late in 2nd period:
The worst of it is, they only scored the goal on a lack of effort on the back check. It wasn't that they made a play that couldn't have been prevented. A little effort on the back check and that's negated. At this time of year, with what's at stake, it shouldn't happen. It shouldn't happen anytime. If you can't get yourself motivated to skate hard for the last 15 seconds of the period, that's wrong.
Christian Marti's thoughts:
I think we had a really good first period. Then second period, we couldn't really keep going the way we were. From there, after 3-0 it's tough to come back. I think the guys tried as much as they could.
Marti on back-breaking goal with 15.7 left:
I don't know, it's always hard when it doesn't want to go in. We had some great scoring opportunities but the puck didn't want to go in, it felt like one of those nights.
Marti on tonight's message from Gordon after the game:
Coach told us Bridgeport lost their game and we kind of messed up the opportunity to go after them. We can't cry about it, we have to go to Binghamton and play as hard as we can.
Phil DeSimone on getting more shots on net:
I think that has been a common goal for us the past few weeks. Simplify and get pucks to the net. The first period we came out flying and peppered [Jarry] pretty good. 
DeSimone on not getting any puck luck tonight:
They pretty much got the bounces all night, but we kind of gave them a few that we could have prevented. At the end of the day, we can't really frown upon this game too much we have to just keep going now. Tomorrow we have Binghamton obviously a must-win, so if we can take two out of three this week I think we'll still be okay.
DeSimone on the back breaking goal late in the 2nd period:
Hockey 101 you never want to give up a goal in the last minute or first minute of any period. Unfortunate bounce we probably could have prevented on the back-check. Despite creating a lot of chances and a lot at the net, if we beared down in the first it could have been a different game but we didn't.

The Phantoms allowed 53 shots Wednesday night in Syracuse and after the game head coach Scott Gordon said he wished his team would start shooting the puck more like that. Tonight against the Penguins, Lehigh Valley started taking more shots at the net.

After killing off an early first period penalty, the Phantoms rattled off eight straight shots and were out-shooting the Penguins by as much as a 10-4 count in the first half of the opening frame. Despite the early game dominance, it was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton getting on the board first on a busted play.

Anthony Stolarz went behind his net to play a puck sent into the Phantoms' defensive zone and lost the handle on it. Dustin Jeffrey, in his first game with the Penguins this season after being acquired on trade deadline day, picked up the loose puck in the corner and sent it to the right-wing face-off circle to Dominik Simon. Simon fired a quick shot on net before Stolarz could recover for his 16th of the season with 4:48 left before the first intermission.

The middle frame was a much more evenly played period. Both goaltenders - Stolarz for the Phantoms and Tristan Jarry for the Penguins - traded saves and turned the game into a goaltender's duel.

After the Phantoms started to regain the advantage in play like they did in the first frame, the Penguins capitalized on an odd-man rush with 15.7 seconds left before the second intermission to take a 2-0 lead into the third period.

Ty Loney got a puck on the right wing and started the 3-on-2 rush entering the Phantoms' defensive zone. He got a puck to the middle to Tom Sestito, who dished it to his left for a quick release from Jean-Sebastien Dea that beat Stolarz to the top shelf. Dea's 14th of the season gave the Penguins a commanding 2-0 lead entering the final frame.

The Penguins extended their lead to 3-0 early in the third period and that was all they needed to hold on for the shutout win. The Pens' top line of Jeffrey, Simon and Kael Mouillierat capitalized on a weird bounce off a skate that went right to Simon for a backhand goal and his second of the night to put the icing on the cake.


Anthony Stolarz (29 saves - 32 shots) made his ninth straight start in net tonight for the Phantoms.

Jason LaBarbera has recovered from the puck that hit him on the bench last Friday against Hartford, but as first reported here he is dealing with a nagging injury from the last few weeks and will not dress this weekend. Martin Ouellette will serve as the team's backup goaltender.

Mark Alt left the game late in the second period and did not return. His status moving forward into tomorrow night's game in Binghamton is undetermined.

Max Lamarche and Dalton Smith were the team's healthy scratches tonight. Jay Rosehill and Christian Marti, who were scratched Wednesday night, returned to the Phantoms' lineup.

Dalton Smith made his Phantoms' debut Wednesday night in Syracuse against his former team. Smith spent the better part of two seasons with the Crunch.

Scratches: Kevin Sundher (lower body since 12/27), Michael Parks (upper body since 10/17), Max Lamarche (healthy), Dalton Smith (healthy), 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
Tyrell Goulbourne - Joe Rehkamp - Jay Rosehill

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

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette


1st Period

0:31: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (holding)
15:12: WBS - Simon (16) - Jeffrey, O'Neill

2nd Period

4:18: WBS - (PP) McGrath, minor (roughing)
7:19: WBS - (PP Simon, minor (high-sticking)
19:44: WBS - Dea (14) - Sestito, Loney

3rd Period

1:28: WBS - Simon (17) - Mouillierat, Jeffrey
5:14: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (cross-checking)


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