Penguins Punish Phantoms

Saturday, February 4, 2017
Photo: Highland Park Hockey
Third time is the charm for Penguins

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

WILKES-BARRE - It was largely a night to forget for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (30-13-2) after dropping a 7-1 decision to the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (34-10-3) Saturday night.

Josh Archibald tallied a game-high three points (two goals, one assist) and Tom Kostopoulos added two goals to help the Penguins open up a 5-0 lead they'd never look back on.

Chris Conner tallied the lone Phantoms' goal late in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play chance, but for the most part Lehigh Valley was unable to maintain the Pens' speed and skill - two traits the Phantoms have been using to frustrate opponents all season long.

Tonight was just a matter of the Penguins coming in ready to play on home ice following a 5-2 regulation loss the night before. With nine more meetings between the two teams yet to come and the Penguins having not defeated the Phantoms yet this season entering tonight's game, they needed to set the tone. And they certainly did - extending their first place lead over the Phantoms in the Atlantic Division back to nine points.

After the jump, a full recap of the action.


Head coach Scott Gordon

On falling behind early:
It's 3-0 and it didn't look very good, but obviously that fourth goal was offside. There's no way a guy can go over the blue line in front of the guy with the puck and not have it be offside. Right from there, it was pretty much game over. They had tons of chances but unfortunately we were giving them up.
On handling Penguins' speed:
I think a lot of it was us backing off and giving them the opportunity to get speed. That, and our turnovers coming out of our zone. Poor gaps, and I think there were quite a few situations where we just got in each other's way. It wasn't just one situation as far as their speed as much as we didn't do enough to eliminate their speed by keeping tight gaps and playing as a unit of five. In the offensive zone, a lot of times there was only two men on the forecheck. The third forward and two defensemen weren't even in the picture. Without five guys, they are going to look a lot faster because they have room to generate speed.
On this being a wake up call with 9 more meetings against WBS:
I'm glad this is the last break. I don't think we have handled the breaks very well as far as the intensity that we need to play with early in the game. It's frustrating because you're trying to get into rhythm and you have five days off and you practice, and I don't know what their game was like last night but they lost 5-2 and they come back and win. We play a game last night where we get down two goals early in the game, didn't play a good first period and were fortunate to come back. Our consistency of play wasn't very good. They were able to capitalize on a lot of our mistakes, and we didn't as much on them.
On an update on Leier:
He just, uh, he's, uh, going to take today off and we'll see where he is on Monday.
On an update on McDonald:
He got hit, and I don't know exactly what the injury is. I don't think it's anything serious. It's just one of those things that he wasn't able to come back out and there was no sense forcing it.
Forward Chris Conner

On not matching WBS' intensity:
I don't know. I think we just didn't play well. They came out hard, were first on loose pucks and we were kind of careless with the puck and they capitalized.
On this being a wake up call:
Anytime you get beat pretty bad, it's a wake up call. Kind of have to look in the mirror and go back to work. Obviously we play them a lot - nine more times like you said - so it's going to be a battle. A night like this can't happen.
On the Phantoms' lone goal:
Care's had it up top, and I knew he was going to shoot. I was trying to get into the goalie's way and get out of the way at the same time. It just hit off my shin pad and found the back of the net. 


The Phantoms and Penguins were flying at the start of the game, as the whistles were few and far between in the opening six minutes of the game.

Lehigh Valley established their forecheck early, and were getting some extended looks in the offensive zone - nearly taking a 1-0 lead when the Phantoms caught the WBS defense leaving a backdoor play to Travis Sanheim wide open.

Unfortunately for Sanheim and the Phantoms, the blueliner wasn't able to handle the pass cleanly and the Penguins scored in transition to put Lehigh Valley in a 1-0 deficit.

Penguins' captain Tom Kostopoulos, playing in his 600th game in a AHL Penguins uniform, took a pass on the right-wing from Kevin Porter on a 2-on-1 and beat Phantoms' goaltender Anthony Stolarz to the glove side 6:42 into the contest for the game's first goal. Tom Sestito also added an assist on the play.

The Penguins added to their lead just after the midway point of the period, as T.J. Brennan pinched in the neutral zone and the puck got around him - springing the Pens into the Phantoms' defensive zone with numbers.

Reece Willcox did the best he could to contain Garrett Wilson 1-on-1, but nobody picked up the trailer as Wilson let a drop pass in the right-wing faceoff circle for Josh Archibald who one-timed the puck past Stolarz at the 11:11 mark of the opening frame for a 2-0 advantage.

The Phantoms appeared to be buzzing and looking for their first goal of the night, drawing a tripping call with 3:55 left before the first intermission.

Instead, a failed keep in at the offensive zone blue line and a perfectly placed area pass by Porter sent Archibald in all one on Stolarz. Archibald's quick shot beat Stolarz high to the glove side, putting the Phantoms in a 3-0 hole with 3:24 left in the period.

Tempers flared late in the period as Sam Morin challenged Wilson to a fight after Stolarz had made a glove save and held on for a whistle. Wilson declined, but the two would get into it behind the Penguins' net in a small gathering of bodies with 24.5 seconds left. The scrum left Morin with four minutes in penalties and the Phantoms on the penalty kill heading into the middle frame trailing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3-0.

Things went from bad to worse for Lehigh Valley in the middle frame. After some even back and forth play in the opening half of the period, the Penguins added to their lead - scoring two goals 59 seconds apart to extend the Phantoms' deficit to 5-0 with 9:56 left in the period.

First Archibald got a puck over to Wilson on a 2-on-1 for a forehand to backhand move past Stolarz for Wilson's 11th of the season. On the next shift, Sahir Gill finished one off from Ryan Haggerty to make it a 5-0 game.

Things got chippy much like you'd expect a lopsided scoring game would. Lehigh Valley got on the board during a 5-on-3 power play, with Chris Conner re-directing a Greg Carey shot from the outside, but that's as close as the Phantoms would get in the middle frame.

Danny Kristo finished off a nice pass from behind the net by Jean-Sebastien Dea to make it a 6-1 game heading to the third period.

Kostopoulos tallied his second of the night with 11:14 left in the third on a one-timer from Gill to make it a 7-1 game.


1st Period

6:42: WBS - Kostopoulos (16) - Porter, Sestito
11:11: WBS - Archibald (10) - Wilson
16:05: WBS - (PP) Goers, minor (tripping)
16:36: WBS - SHG Archibald (11) - Porter
19:35: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (roughing)
19:35: LV - Morin, minor (roughing)
19:35: WBS - Wilson, minor (roughing)

2nd Period

9:05: WBS - Wilson (11) - Archibald
10:04: WBS - Gill (2) - Haggerty
11:59: WBS - (PP) Gaunce, minor (interference)
13:10: WBS - (PP) bench minor, too many men (served by Gill)
14:01: WBS - (PP) Pouliot, minor (slashing)
14:34: LV - PPG Conner (13) - Carey, Miele
14:54: LV - (PP) Brennan, minor (roughing)
15:36: WBS - Kristo (5) - Dea
18:36: LV - Brennan, ten-minute misconduct (abuse of officials)

3rd Period

8:46: WBS - Kostopoulos (17) - Gill
13:53: LV - Morin, minor (roughing)
13:53: LV - Morin, major (fighting)
13:53: WBS - (PP) Dea, minor (roughing)
13:53: WBS - Sestito, minor (instigating)
13:53: WBS - Sestito, major (fighting)
13:53: WBS - Sestito, ten-minute misconduct


Anthony Stolarz (25 saves - 32 shots) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley, with  Alex Lyon coming off a win Friday night in Albany.

With road games in back-to-back nights with four hours of overnight travel in between them, it's certainly possible to expect a few lineup changes to get some fresh legs into the lineup.

Mark Alt and Radel Fazleev sat out tonight as Reece Willcox and Boyd Gordon were inserted into the lineup.

Taylor Leier is reported to have suffered an undisclosed injury during Friday's morning skate in Albany. He missed his second straight game tonight in Wilkes-Barre.

Colin McDonald left tonight's game in the 1st period after taking a hit while dumping a puck into the Penguins' end. He did not return, though head coach Scott Gordon said he did not think the injury was serious.

Scratches: Taylor Leier (undisclosed), Radel Fazleev (healthy) and Mark Alt (healthy)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

Corban Knight - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Cole Bardreau - Boyd Gordon - Mark Zengerle

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon

Recent Transactions

2/2: DEL - F Kevin Sundher released from his standard player contract (SPC)
1/24: DEL - G Mark Dekanich returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
1/21: ADD - G Mark Dekanich recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
1/21: ADD - D Reece Willcox reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL)  from Reading (ECHL)
1/21: ADD - F Radel Fazleev reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL)  from Reading (ECHL)
to Reading (ECHL)


Tristan Jarry (30 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Penguins.

Scratches: Tim Erixon (healthy), Ethan Prow (healthy), Patrick McGrath (healthy), Thomas DiPauli (upper body) and Lukas Bengtsson (undisclosed)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Tom Sestito - Kevin Porter - Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson - Oskar Sundqvist - Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon - Teddy Blueger - Jean-Sebastien Dea
Danny Kristo - Sahir Gill - Ryan Haggerty

Derrick Pouliot - Steve Oleksy
Stuart Percy - David Warsofsky
Cameron Gaunce - Barry Goers

Casey DeSmith - Tristan Jarry

Recent Transactions

2/2: DEL - D Brett Stern released from PTO
1/30: DEL - RW Carter Rowney recalled on loan by Pittsburgh (NHL)
1/27: ADD - RW Carter Rowney returned on loan by Pittsburgh (NHL)
1/26: ADD - D Steve Oleksy returned on loan by Pittsburgh (NHL)


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