Phantoms Begin Attempt at the Unthinkable Wednesday

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Without the help, it's hard to see the puck on this game-winning goal from Hershey in Game Two. Imagine what Martin Ouellette saw/didn't see in live game play. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey.
Any Phantoms' comeback will come with their backs against the wall

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have the odds stacked against them as they enter Wednesday night's Game Three of the Atlantic Division Semifinals against the Hershey Bears. Their next loss in the series will spell the end of their postseason run in the first round.

For the 99th time in the American Hockey League's (AHL) Calder Cup Playoffs history, an AHL team - in this latest case, the Phantoms - is trailing two games to none in a best-of-five series.

According to the AHL's communication department, of the previous 98 teams to be up 2-0 in a best-of-five series more than half (50) have gone on to complete the three-game sweep. Twenty-seven have gone on to win in four games, and only 10 have had to sweat it out with a winner-take-all Game Five to avoid an epic choke job.

Doing the math, that means only 11 times has a team come back the 0-2 deficit to win the series.

Further adding to the doubt that the Phantoms can pull off the almost unthinkable comeback, only three teams who lost their first two games at home came back to win three straight to advance to the next round in the league's 81-year history.

Oddly enough, the last time a team lost two at home to begin a best-of-five series and came back to win the series was in 2013 when the Providence Bruins accomplished the feat against, you guessed it, the Hershey Bears.

The Phantoms have been the comeback kids all season long in 2016-17 with a league-leading eight third period comebacks - including their home-ice clinching win at home against Providence back on April 14th.

In that game against the Bruins, the Phantoms trailed 4-1 just 1:18 into the second period. Alex Lyon was pulled from action, and Martin Ouellette - the Phantoms' expected starter for tonight's Game Three against Hershey - came on in relief of Lyon.

Ouellette went on to stop all 18 shots he faced the rest of the way that night, and Lehigh Valley rallied in the third period with three goals in the final 10:51 of regulation to force overtime. Two of those goals came with Ouellette pulled for an extra attacker in the final 1:02 of regulation.

The Phantoms put the icing on the cake just 48 seconds into the overtime that night, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 win and home ice advantage for their first round series against Hershey.

That game, at the time, seemed like a comeback would be impossible for the Phantoms. But, like they had all regular season long, Lehigh Valley found ways to turn things around and win games when they needed to most.

They'll need that to return in the Atlantic Division Semifinals against Hershey beginning tonight on the road in Game Three at Giant Center.

"When it's all said and done, obviously, in this series, you have to win three games," Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon said after Saturday's 5-4 loss in Game Two. "We just have to win three in a row."

Here's all the info on best-of-five series in the AHL postseason that have begun with two wins by the same team. Special thanks to Jason Chaimovitch and the AHL's Communications department for the following:
LV-HER is the 99th best-of-five series ever to begin 2-0.

Of the previous 98 teams to be up 2-0:
50 won the series in 3
27 won the series in 4
10 won the series in 5
11 lost the series in 5 
3 teams lost the first 2 games at home and came back to win:
- 1954 Hershey def. Pittsburgh
- 1967 Rochester def. Cleveland
- 2013 Providence def. Hershey

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