|Malcolm Subban stopped 21 of 24 shots to pick up a win Sunday. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (36-18-3) entered their third and final game of a weekend road trip through the northeast looking for a clean sweep but ran into a well-rested Providence Bruins (34-15-5-4) team eager to avenge their Friday night loss on home ice to Albany.
The Phantoms fell behind early and despite making it a one-goal game early in the third period, they were unable to complete the comeback at the Dunkin Donuts Center Sunday evening in a 7-3 loss.
Andy Miele, Mark Zengerle and Scott Laughton tallied goals for Lehigh Valley in the loss, while Corban Knight added two assists for the Phantoms.
Providence's combination of speed and skill along with a physical defensemen with size was too much for the Phantoms to handle. Noel Acciari tallied a game-high three points (one goal, two assists), while Tommy Cross, Wayne Simpson, Austin Czarnik and Jordan Szwarz tallied a goal and an assist each in a big win for the PBruins.
Phantoms' Playoff Update: With the two points Sunday, Providence moves back into second place in the Atlantic Division - pushing the Phantoms into third place two points behind the Bruins with one game in hand. Lehigh Valley trails first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by six points after the Penguins handled Hartford 6-3 Sunday at XL Center. Bridgeport, in the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, lost in regulation to Utica Sunday. Fifth place Hershey currently trails Springfield 2-0 with 14:06 left in the 2nd period.
ROSTER NOTES - Phantoms
Alex Lyon (20 saves - 24 shots in 33:46 of game action) got the start in back to back games for the Phantoms Sunday in Providence after a strong 32-save performance in Lehigh Valley's 2-1 win in Hartford Saturday night. Anthony Stolarz (10 saves - 12 shots) came on in relief midway though the second period with the Phantoms trailing 4-1.
Scratches (all injured): Robert Hagg, Steven Swavely, Danick Martel, Taylor Leier and Boyd Gordon
Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Mark Zengerle - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Chris McCarthy - Radel Fazleev
T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim
Alex Lyon - Anthony Stolarz
It appeared to be evident early that the Phantoms knew they were going to be up against it in their third game in two and a half days against a Providence Bruins team that enjoyed a rare Saturday night off after a regulation loss on home ice Friday to Albany.
Lehigh Valley was heavily out-shot and out-chanced for most of the opening 20 minutes, allowing the game's first goal 8:10 into the contest.
Alex Lyon came up big on a 3-on-1 chance for Providence, but the Phantoms weren't able to recover and get the puck out of their own end on the ensuing sequence - with Jake Debrusk getting the puck to Alex Grant before Jordan Szwarz tallied his 15th of the season.
Reece Willcox, in the lineup the last two games since Robert Hagg exited Friday's game with a lower body injury, took offense to a late whack at Lyon by PBruins forward Sean Kuraly and made it known.
Luckily for Lehigh Valley, they capitalized on a late period power play to send the game to the first intermission in a 1-1 game. Chris Conner got his 300th career pro assist with 3:00 left in the opening frame, setting up Andy Miele for his 7th of the season to even the game up late in the first period.Willcox & #LVPhantoms take offense to Kuraly's whack at Lyon on his way by the net. pic.twitter.com/NsLHKWa3Ev— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) March 5, 2017
Corban Knight was whistled for hooking with less than 90 seconds left in the opening period after he got tangled up with a Providence Bruins' forward in the neutral zone, but the Phantoms still found themselves in a tie game through 20 minutes.
The Bruins didn't score on the carry over power play time, but it wasn't long after that a Matt Grzelyck shot deflected off a Phantoms' defender and in past Lyon 1:37 into the middle frame - extending the PBruins lead to 2-1.
Another thing that didn't help the Phantoms' cause in the first half of the game was the amount of time they spent on the penalty kill. Providence was awarded five power plays in the opening 32 minutes of the game but it wasn't until they were already head 3-1 that they cashed in on their fifth attempt of the afternoon.
Colton Hargrove beat Lyon for his 7th of the season from Danton Heinen and Jordan Szwarz, and that spelled the end of the road for Lyon - pulled in favor of Anthony Stolarz after allowing four goals on 24 shots in 33:46 of game action.GOAL GIF: Noel Acciari tips a Tommy Cross shot to put @AHLBruins on top of #LVPhantoms 3-1 midway through the 2nd period. #Bruins pic.twitter.com/6xeBFnE4MN— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) March 5, 2017
It's tough to place all the blame solely on the goaltender, especially when Lyon essentially stole the Phantoms two points 24 hours ago in a strong effort. The amount of time the Phantoms spent in their own end combined with sloppy passing and mental mistakes typical for a team in their Sunday game of a three-in-three saw them trailing 4-1 with 6:14 left before the second intermission.
Mark Zengerle appeared to give the Phantoms some life late in the second period, with his 11th of the season - a rebound goal from Greg Carey and Corban Knight - making it a 4-2 deficit heading to the final frame.
The Phantoms' momentum continued early in the third period, as Scott Laughton beat Malcolm Subban on a rebound with 15:53 left in regulation to make it a one goal game.
That's as close as the Phantoms would get, however, as just 45 seconds later Austin Czarnik finished off a tic tac toe passing play to restore the PBruins' two-goal lead at 5-3.
Wayne Simpson sealed the deal with 8:40 left in regulation with his 15th of the season, and an empty net goal with 2:35 left completed the 7-3 final score.Tic-tac-toe. @DHeinz43 to Acciari to Austin Czarnik gives @AHLBruins a 5-3 lead just 45 seconds after Laughton made it a one-goal game. pic.twitter.com/6p48aQrLVi— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) March 5, 2017
Credit to head coach Scott Gordon and the Phantoms for pulling their goaltender down three with 3:45 left to play - nothing left to lose at that point. A quick Phantoms' goal with time could have completely changed the complexion of the game.
8:10: PRO - Szwarz (15) - Grant, DeBrusk
9:39: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (delay of game)
9:59: PRO - (PP) Szwarz, minor (roughing)
10:36: LV - (PP) O'Neill, minor (slashing)
13:11: PRO - (PP) Kuraly, minor (slashing)
16:49: PRO - (PP) Kuraly, minor (high-sticking)
17:00: LV - PPG Miele (7) - Conner, Knight
18:43: LV - (PP) Knight, minor (hooking)
1:37: PRO - Grzelcyk (4) - Acciari, Czarnik
9:05: PRO - Acciari (5) - Cave, Cross
10:03: LV - (PP) Bardreau, minor (boarding)
12:15: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (slashing)
13:46: PRO - PPG Hargrove (7) - Szwarz, Simpson
18:33: LV - Zengerle (11) - Carey, Knight
4:07: LV - Laughton (14) - Bardreau, Morin
4:52: PRO - Czarnik (2) - Acciari, Heinen
11:20: PRO - Simpson (15) - Kuraly
11:29: LV - Goulbourne, major (fighting)
11:29: PRO - Randell, major (fighting)
12:47: PRO - (PP) Cave, minor (cross-checking)
17:25: PRO - ENG Cross (12) - unassisted
Lehigh Valley 1 - 1 - 1 = 3
Providence 1 - 3 - 3 = 7
Lehigh Valley 7 - 8 - 9 = 24
Providence 13 - 14 - 10 = 37
LV - Alex Lyon (20 saves - 24 shots in 33:46 TOI)
Anthony Stolarz (10 saves - 12 shots in 25:02 TOI)
PRO - Malcolm Subban (21 saves - 24 shots)