Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre - Phantoms Shutout Penguins 3-0

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Phantoms' captain Colin McDonald jostles for position in front of the Penguins' net. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms closing in on Penguins for top spot in Atlantic Division

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

Wilkes-Barre Twp - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (37-18-3) had not had any success at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza this season entering Wednesday's matchup in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' home rink. With a total team effort and a strong performance in net from rookie goaltender Alex Lyon, the Phantoms changed their fortunes in their rival's home rink in a 3-0 shutout win.

The win moves Lehigh Valley to within four points of the first place Penguins, who have played one more game than the Phantoms to date. These two teams still have six more meetings left in the regular season, which leaves the Atlantic Division playoff race wide open.

After the jump, a full recap of the action complete with post-game reaction from head coach Scott Gordon and forward Chris McCarthy as well as a video interview with Alex Lyon.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms'  shutout win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton reduces their magic number to 31 points with a chance to reduce that number by as many as four more points with a meeting Friday against Hershey.

You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

Alex Lyon (31 saves - 31 shots) got the start in net for the Phantoms Wednesday night opposite Tristan Jarry for the Penguins.

Defenseman Robert Hagg and forward Danick Martel both exited with injuries in the second period Friday night in Springfield. Neither are expected to play tonight.

Tyrell Goulbourne was called up to Lehigh Valley and joined the team in Hartford Saturday morning. giving the Phantoms 12 healthy forwards. Reece Willcox had been the team's extra defenseman, but with Hagg's injury is back into the lineup alongside T.J. Brennan.

Steven Swavely blocked a shot during the third period in Utica two weekends ago, and left the game. It's safe to say Swavely will likely miss several weeks as he was seen at last Thursday's practice with his left hand/wrist in a cast.

Taylor Leier (concussion) will miss his 14th straight game, having not played since the AHL All-Star challenge on January 30th. Leier skated briefly with the team at practice last Thursday at PPL Center, but was the only skater wearing a green jersey and he exited the ice about 15-20 minutes after I arrived for the 10:30 practice. There are no updates being given on Leier's status or a timetable for his return from Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton on February after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. No update from HC Scott Gordon on any potential timetable for a return to the lineup for Gordon or any of the injured players as per his usual vagueness with updating injured players.

Scratches: Robert Hagg (lower body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Danick Martel (undisclosed), Taylor Leier (concussion) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics):

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


The Phantoms came out with some jump in their step in the opening minutes, and they were rewarded with the game's opening goal on a turnover that their hard work on the forecheck created.

It was Lehigh Valley's fourth line getting the Phantoms on the board first in Wilkes-Barre Wednesday night, as Chris McCarthy pounced on a turnover just inside the Phantoms' offensive zone blue line. McCarthy immediately took two steps in and blasted a slap shot past Tristan Jarry for his 1st of the season just 3:29 into the contest.
McCarthy thought he had his 1st Phantoms' goal of the season a few weeks ago on home ice, but the goal was called back due to some incidental goaltender interference. Tonight against the Penguins, the fourth line center picked a good time to net his first as a Phantom.

The Penguins got to their game as the period wore on, and really had the Phantoms on their heels late in the first period before taking an offensive zone hooking penalty with 2:10 left before the first intermission.

In the middle frame, it was a goaltender's duel between Alex Lyon and Tristan Jarry. The two teams combined for 21 shots in the period, but no goals due in large part to the play of the goaltenders.

Early in the 2nd period, it was Lyon calmly gloving down Kevin Porter's breakaway attempt to keep the Phantoms ahead 1-0.
Towards the midway mark of regulation, it was Jarry's turn to come up big - stopping Scott Laughton's partial breakaway to keep the game a one-goal game.
The two teams exchanged power plays and dangerous chances back and forth in the middle frame, but the game remained a 1-0 Phantoms lead heading to the third.

In the third, the Phantoms were able to negate the Penguins' speed and clog up the neutral zone. Lyon did the rest - making all the necessary saves to keep the Phantoms ahead throughout the night.

Colin McDonald picked a corner on Jarry with 7:58 left in the third period for the insurance marker. McDonald's 21st of the season was assisted by Scott Laughton and Cole Bardreau.
Frustration set in for the Penguins at that point, and it wasn't long after some trips to the penalty box that the Phantoms extended their lead to 3-0. Mark Zengerle tapped in a rebound from the side of the net for his 12th of the season to seal the deal with 3:34 to go. The power play tally was Lehigh Valley's first of the night on their seventh attempt.
Lyon completed the shutout with 31 saves for his fourth perfect game of the year.


Head coach Scott Gordon:
It was probably the most complete game we have played in a long time. From start to finish. You're playing the first place team in a building that we haven't had any success in yet, coming off a tough weekend, to be able to bounce back off the Sunday and not let it affect us - that was huge for us.
On the 4th line of Goulbourne-McCarthy-Fazleev:
I thought right up until we had the first power play I thought we established a lot of momentum. We didn't spend a lot of time in our zone, particularly in the first period. THe fourth line was solid. For me, they were playing against all the lines. I didn't think twice about putting them on the ice, and that's huge when you don't have to worry about your fourth line going out there against the other team's top lines.
Gap control and negating Penguins' speed:
We talked about that. Two things we talked about before the third period to make some adjustments because in the first period they did have some exits out of their zone that led to some speed through the neutral zone and I thought our guys responded really well with that.
Forward Chris McCarthy 

Getting 1st Phantoms goal of the season:
Obviously took a little longer than I hoped, but it was nice to get that first one out of the way. I thought our line played well tonight so it was good to be on the plus side there.
On his goal:
Our line all night got pucks in deep and our forecheck was really effective. We generated a couple of opportunities off that. When we're doing that we are going to be successful.
 On intensity of games against Penguins:
Obviously those games are going to be a little tighter, especially divisional opponents down the stretch. There's about a month left until playoffs, so every point matters. Games tend to tighten up this time of the year.
On solid team win:
Goalie, defense, forwards. Everyone played a great 60 minutes. When our team is doing that we make it hard to lose those kind of games. When we play the way we are supposed to we're successful.


1st Period

3:29: LV - McCarthy (1) - unassisted
10:17: WBS - (PP) Prow, minor (high-sticking)
17:50: WBS - (PP) Sundqvist, minor (hooking)

2nd Period

6:17: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (holding)
8:05: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (hooking)
8:13: WBS - (PP) Dea, minor (slashing)
11:26: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, minor (tripping)

3rd Period

1:36: WBS - (PP) Archibald, minor (interference)
12:02: LV - McDonald (21) - Laughton, Bardreau
14:22: WBS - (PP) Archibald, minor (delay of game)
15:02: WBS - (PP) Kostopoulos, minor (slashing)
16:26: LV - PPG Zengerle (12) - McDonald, Laughton


Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1 - 0 - 2 = 3
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 0 - 0 - 0 = 0


Lehigh Valley Phantoms 8 - 11- 15 = 34
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 11 - 10 - 10 = 31


LV - Alex Lyon (31 saves - 31 shots)
WBS - Tristan Jarry (31 saves - 34 shots)

Power Play

LV: 1-for-7
WBS: 0-for-1

Penalty Kill

LV: 1-for-1
WBS: 6-for-7

Attendance: 4, 172


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