|Taylor Leier mobbed by his teammates in third period after tallying a go-ahead goal. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms saw their eight-game winning streak end last Saturday in Bridgeport, but if this week is any indication the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate is gearing up for a similar streak.
In the second game of a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators, the Phantoms struck first and last in a sea-saw battle with the BSens in a 4-3 victory.
Jordan Weal tallied the game's opening goal and what turned out to be the game-winning with 4:05 left in the third, while Taylor Leier extended his points-scoring streak to five games with a crucial go-ahead goal early in the final frame.
The win tonight, combined with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's overtime loss to Bridgeport, puts Lehigh Valley in first place in the Atlantic Division for the time being based on percentage points.
The Phantoms are back in action Saturday night at PPL Center against the Hartford WolfPack.
Post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon, Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier and a full recap of tonight's game after the jump.
Head Coach Scott Gordon
On the hard-fought game against Binghamton:
I thought we had a much better game defensively. We played a high-risk game, but to me that's something we have to be better at tomorrow.On keeping the shots/chances to the outside:
Just getting over the blue line and shooting the puck on net. With the exception of the breakaway they had, the rest were pretty much all perimeter. They did a good job of getting their pucks through. I think it was obvious in their gameplan to get pucks up top and move from D to D. There wasn't really a shot that was a major threat, but they did a good job of getting pucks to the net.On being able to respond to each of BSens' goals right away:
It is important. They're obviously disappointed they lost 1-0 on Wednesday against us. It's no secret we have talented offensive players. You can't give up too many goals because it's going to get harder to score later on. Everytime they score and we come back and score again it makes it seem like it's an uphill climb for 60 minutes. It was good by us to be able to right away get a response and get a goal.Forward Jordan Weal
Against BSens, struggling, find ways to win:
There's no easy games in this league. You could play the last place team or the first place team, it's going to be battle every night. You can get their best game or worst of the year. I think they played hard and we matched that both games.Clutch in third period, bouncing back from BSens goals:
We never panicked. Start of the third I don't think we were playing our best hockey of the night. Once they scored a couple goals, I think it was a wakeup call for us to kind of snap back into it. In the last 10 minutes, I think we controlled the play pretty well.On if he expected the patented behind the net pass from Conner:
Yeah, yeah. We had a couple times this year where that has just about connected. Tonight it did, which was a big goal for the team. Big two points for us, just have to keep moving forward here and try to get six points out of this week.Forward Taylor Leier
On being able to find ways to win:
We found ways to win both games - Wednesday and tonight. Going back to last year, we lost a lot of these games. The one-goal games, tight games with teams scoring back and forth. It's confidence boosting for our team to win those tight games like that.On his five-game points scoring streak:
Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn't. I think overall since the season has started I have gained confidence each and every game and it's definitely nice to see the puck going in right now.On being able to answer Binghamton's goals:
It's always nice to respond like that at home. Get the crowd back into it. We feed off the energy in the rink. They did a nice job battling back but it was nice to see the guys stick with it and push back hard each time they scored.On getting back onto winning ways:
That was a key point for us after losing that one game in Bridgeport, to get right back on the horse and start another win streak. It's nice we've been able to win these two and do that.
In a rematch of Wednesday night's game in Binghamton, the Phantoms and BSens appeared to be playing to another scoreless period in the first frame.
Early on, the BSens had the better chances and were outshooting Lehigh Valley 6-1. A Robert Hagg turnover in the neutral zone saw Buddy Robinson out-muscle the Phantoms defender and come in on a mini-breakaway.
Luckily for the Phantoms, Alex Lyon was up to the task, stopping the high and hard shot from Robinson off the top of his shoulder.
The Phantoms started to get to their game in the middle of the period, drawing themselves the game's first power play as well as the first 5-on-3 action of the night. Lehigh Valley held the puck for nearly the entire duration of the power play in the offensive zone, but were unable to capitalize.
It took almost 50 minutes of hockey Wednesday night to produce the game's first goal between the Phantoms and Senators, but tonight it was Jordan Weal lighting the lamp with 1:01 left before the first intermission to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
T.J. Brennan got a puck down low to Chris Conner, who began to take the puck below the goal line and appeared to be heading for a wrap around attempt. Instead he held up and set up Weal at the bottom of the left-wing circle for the game's first goal, and Weal's 5th of the season.
The BSens out shot the Phantoms 11-6, but thanks to some big stops early from Lyon and the late 1st period surge from Lehigh Valley the Phantoms were able to take a lead into the second period.
Lehigh Valley was much better to start the 2nd period than they were to begin the contest. Although they didn't score on a power play to begin the period, they were more assertive and appeared more focused on getting to their game.
Despite being out-shot 12-9 in the second period, the BSens were able to tie the game at 1-1 near the midway point of the game. Andreas Englund's point shot was deflected past Lyon by Ryan Rupert to get the BSens on the board.
The tied score didn't last long, however, as the Phantoms were able to re-gain the lead at 2-1 just over two and a half minutes later. Mark Zengerle was denied of his 5th goal of the season earlier in the period, but he buried his chance at the 11:47 mark on a great feed from Cole Bardreau.
From behind the net, Bardreau got a puck to the side on Zengerle's tape for a quick shot from a sharp angle that beat O'Connor to the spot. Greg Carey added a secondary assist on the play.
Binghamton didn't fade away into the night in the third period. Instead, they tied the game up at 2-2 4:38 into the period.
Phil Varone, who was denied on a breakaway by a beautiful right-pad stop by Lyon late in the second, was able to get an odd-man rush with Jack Rodewald early in the third. Varone went to his backhand and forced the Phantoms defender onto his stomach, but it was Varone making a play and getting the puck over to Rodewald for the finish past Lyon to even the game.
The sea-saw battle continued as Taylor Leier responded 2:01 later to put Lehigh Valley back on top, 3-2. Leier tipped Brennan's point shot on O'Connor and although the BSens goaltender was able to make the save it was Leier getting to his own rebound atop the crease for his 5th of the season.
Still, the BSens continued battling and again tied things up - this time at 3-3 with just under 12 minutes left to play. Varone was at it again, tallying his third of the season to keep Binghamton toe to toe with the Phantoms in the third period.
And again, the Phantoms did not panic found a way to get the job done. With 4:05 left in regulation, Chris Conner's patented fake wrap around, backhand pass connected with Weal and he buried it past O'Connor for his 2nd of the night to lift Lehigh Valley to their 2nd win of the week.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (32 saves - 35 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley, fresh off his first career professional shutout Wednesday night against these same Binghamton Senators. Martin Ouellette served as the team's backup.
Only one lineup change from Wednesday's game, as Max Lamarche returned to the Phantoms' lineup and Reece Willcox was the odd man out on defense.
Andy Miele remains out, but has been skating with the team at practice and is nearing a return. He's been out of game action since November 5th against Springfield.
Scratches: Andy Miele (injured) and Reece Willcox (healthy)
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Taylor Leier - Corban Knight - Colin McDonald
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Chris Conner
Greg Carey - Cole Bardreau - Mark Zengerle
Steven Swavely - Radel Fazleev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
T.J. Brennan - Max Lamarche
Robert Hagg - Will O'Neill
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette
8:38: BNG - (PP) Perron, minor (high-sticking)
10:06: BNG - (PP) Kostka, minor (slashing)
18;59: LV - Weal (5) - Conner, Brennan
19:59: BNG - (PP) Paul, minor (tripping)
9:13: BNG - Rupert (3) - Englund, Paul
11:47: LV - Zengerle (5) - Bardreau, Carey
14:34: BNG - McCormick, minor (boarding)
14:34: LV - Weal, minor (boarding)
4:38: BNG - Rodewald (3) - Varone,
6:39: LV - Leier (5) - Brennan, Fazleev
8:13: BNG - Varone (3) - Harpur, Englund
15:55: LV - Weal (6) - Conner, Martel
17:20: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (tripping)
17:20: LV - (PP) Morin, double-minor (high-sticking)