|Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
Editor's Note: I was unable to make it to tonight's Phantoms game due to illness, but watched from home & was kindly given post-game audio from Michael Zahn.
With Philadelphia Flyers' general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers' staff in the building tonight to watch the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-13-2), the home team put together one of their best performances of the season to date in a 5-0 win over the Binghamton Senators Wednesday night.
If Hextall was looking at his options for a call up at the forward position, Scott Laughton certainly made a good impression tonight - tallying his 8th goal in his last 14 games in the final minute of the 2nd period.
The Phantoms got goals from five different skaters including Laughton, with Mark Zengerle, Danick Martel, Robert Hagg and Sam Morin all tallying goals in the win. Alex Lyon completed his third career professional shutout with 27 saves, his second shutout of Binghamton this season.
It was a total team effort, and Lyon acknowledged that in a post-game interview with TV2Sports' Kristi Fulkerson.
"I think that's a great characteristic of a team," Lyon said about Lehigh Valley's ability to bounce back from Saturday's 7-1 loss in Wilkes-Barre. "It was an unreal night."
Quick recap after the jump, complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon and Robert Hagg on tonight's win.
Also, some goal highlights from tonight's game in .gif form!
Head coach Scott Gordon
On better performance tonight vs. Saturday:
It all starts with their gaps coming out of the offensive zone. They kept it tight. We didn't give up much off the rush, and the was the biggest problem against Wilkes-Barre.On having Binghamton's number this season:
We have had two really tight games with them. The 1-0 game I thought they played well and the 2-1 game they were up 1-0 late in the third period. Maybe our firepower took over in that game, but when we play them I don't think it's going to be an easy game - especially in their building. Their rink has a smaller feel, and they always seem to play us tough in there.On being able to bounce back:
Anytime you lose, it's so important to not get yourself into a losing streak by winning the next game. I thought our guys were really focused from start to finish.... stayed with our game plan and as a result it was a pretty consistent third period effort.Defenseman Robert Hagg
On his goal:
I didn't see it all. I just heard the horn sound and I realized. First I thought it was Kube's or Danick that tipped it, but a goal is a goal. I think our first year [here] Brandon Manning had one kind of similar to that one, so I have seen it once before.On improvement defensively from previous game:
We talked a lot about that after last game. He wanted us to play a much simpler game, simplify our game, get the puck up to our forwards and let them get it down low and work from there. I think we made a huge improvement from last game, and that's why we were basically in their zone the whole time.On rebounding from 7-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre tonight:
I think everyone feels they have to step up, it's kind of embarrassing to lose [like that]. I would say everybody looked themselves in the mirror and played a better game than the one in Wilkes-Barre.On Alex Lyon:
Alex has been good the whole year for us. He's one of the reasons why we are a top team in this league. I hope he can continue doing that for us the rest of the year.
The Phantoms had the extra jump in their step in the first period, ripping 17 shots on Binghamton's Chris Driedger in the opening 20 minutes of play - out-chancing and out-working the BSens throughout the period.
Danick Martel had a chance in tight early, but was stopped on back-to-back bids at the net. There was plenty more of that to come for Martel and the second line.
It wasn't until the Phantoms' 14th shot of the hockey game that they were able to take the 1-0 lead, but the second goal wasn't far away - setting a Phantoms' franchise record in the process.Scoreless first six minutes between #LVPhantoms & #BSens. Danick Martel had a great chance to score early. pic.twitter.com/kiudEfil6i— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 9, 2017
First, Sam Morin intercepted a BSens' attempted clear at the blue line and sent a puck down low to Corban Knight. Knight found Mark Zengerle in the slot, who picked the top right-corner on Driedger with 7:04 left in the 1st period. Bumped onto the team's top line with injuries to Taylor Leier and Colin McDonald, Zengerle's 9th was his first goal in his last 12 games.
Off the ensuing face-off, Jordan Weal tied up his opponent on the draw and Nicolas Aube-Kubel sprung Martel with speed for a quick backhander past Driedger just six seconds after Zengerle made it 1-0.ICYMI: @zengerle9 picked a corner on Chris Driedger on a feed from @CorbanKnight to give #LVPhantoms a 1-0 lead back in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/RpACsF2w7L— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 9, 2017
The Phantoms took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, then added two more goals in the middle frame to extend their lead to 4-0..@martel2626 wastes no time off the face off to fire one past Driedger. #BNGvsLV pic.twitter.com/CS6tn9WtQh— AHL (@TheAHL) February 9, 2017
The birthday boy, Robert Hagg, made it 3-0 on an awkward play 13:11 into the 2nd period. His intended pass to the net front for Nicolas Aube-Kubel was partially blocked by BSens captain Michael Blunden, blooping way up in the air and coming back down just behind Driedger to get in the net.
Before the second period ended, Scott Laughton made it 4-0 on a great individual effort - firing a shot on Driedger and tracking the rebound, sneaking one past the BSens goaltender in the final minute of the period.What a friendly bounce for #LVPhantoms & Robert Hagg. Partial block bloops way up and comes down behind Driedger. 3-0 Lehigh Valley. pic.twitter.com/l4oqtDHGvz— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 9, 2017
Sam Morin got in on the scoring in the third period, completing the 5-0 final score with a point shot through traffic that eluded Driedger with 8:35 left to play.GIF: Scott Laughton with a great individual effort, tracking his own rebound & sneaking it past Driedger to make it 4-0 #LVPhantoms. pic.twitter.com/z589CipZZv— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 9, 2017
LOOSE PUCKSGOAL GIF: Sam Morin point shot finds its way through traffic past Driedger to give #LVPhantoms a 5-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/OUbE75pmow— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 9, 2017
Alex Lyon became the 8th Phantoms' goaltender to reach three shutouts in one season..... Scott Laughton's second period goal was his eighth goal in his last 14 games..... Mark Zengerle's opening goal was his first in his last 12 games and first in the 2017 calendar year.... The Phantoms' win combined with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' 4-0 loss to St. John's tonight narrows the gap to first place to seven points. Lehigh Valley also has two games in hand and nine head-to-head meetings with the Penguins to close the gap further...
12:56: LV - Zengerle (9) - Knight, Morin
13:02: LV - Martel (13) - Aube-Kubel, Weal
13:14: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (tripping)
14:33: BNG - (PP) Harpur, minor (boarding)
14:33: BNG - Harpur, major (fighting)
14:33: LV - Knight, major (fighting)
18:22: BNG - (PP) Nehring, minor (slashing)
13:11: LV - Hagg (4) - Brennan, Weal
19:12: LV - Laughton (11) - Knight, Zengerle
1:48: LV - (PP) Weal, minor (holding)
1:48: LV - (PP) Weal, minor (unsportsmanlike)
8:30: BNG - (PP) Kostka, minor (tripping)
11:25: LV - Morin (3) - Hagg, Bardreau
12:36: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (hooking)
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (27 saves - 27 shots) got the start in net tonight for the Phantoms. Anthony Stolarz served as Lyon's backup.
Taylor Leier (undisclosed injury) missed his third straight game and hasn't played since his MVP performance at the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge last Monday night. The injury isn't believed to be serious, but he's unlikely to return to action until next week.
Colin McDonald (undisclosed injury) left last Saturday's game in Wilkes-Barre in the 1st period and didn't return. He, along with Leier, did not practice with the team this week and isn't expected to be out long - a possibility to return this weekend against St. John's.
Boyd Gordon (lower body) left tonight's game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens forward came crashing into his legs in a puck battle in the corner. Gordon has helped off the ice by trainers, not putting any weight on his left leg and really having trouble getting from the bench to the tunnel to get examined.
Scratches: Colin McDonald (undisclosed injury), Taylor Leier (undisclosed injury) and Reece Willcox (healthy)
Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)
Corban Knight - Scott Laughton - Mark Zengerle
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Cole Bardreau - Boyd Gordon - Radel Fazleev
T.J. Brennan - Robert Hagg
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz