Phantoms Shutout By Penguins... Again

Saturday, April 1, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms' margin for error in final seven games disappearing after shutout loss to Penguins

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

WILKES-BARRE - Just 24 hours after the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' lackluster performance at home in a 3-1 loss to Bridgeport Friday night, the Philadelphia Flyers' top minor league affiliate was in Wilkes-Barre for a chance at redemption against the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins.

Just 24 hours after not matching their opponents' desperation and intensity on home ice, the Phantoms followed it up with another going through the motions kind of performance against their bitter intrastate rival in a 3-0 shutout loss - their second shutout loss at the hands of the Penguins in the last two Saturday night contests.

Despite the loss, the Phantoms remain in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with seven games remaining and a third game in three nights Sunday evening in Hershey. In fact, Providence's regulation loss Saturday night to Springfield keeps Lehigh Valley in second place.

There isn't anyone in the Phantoms' locker room hitting the panic button, but they aren't shying away from the fact that they didn't heed the message from Friday night's loss and need to be dialed in for Sunday's game in Hershey.

Phantoms' lines:

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Chris Conner
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Cole Bardreau
Danick Martel - Andy Miele - Mark Zengerle
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Chris McCarthy

T.J. Brennan - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Max Lamarche

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette

Scratches: Will O'Neill (upper body), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Mark Friedman (healthy)


A feisty opening first period set the tone for tonight's Phantoms/Penguins game - their 10th head to head matchup of the season. When two teams play each other this often, the growing dislike for one another builds up over the course of the season. Tonight was no different.

There weren't any goals in the opening 20 minutes of play, but that's not to say there wasn't plenty going on out on the ice. It seemed like there were extra curricular activities and shoving matches after every single whistle.

Things really boiled over at the 9:12 mark as Sam Morin gave a shove into the back of Penguins' forward Zach Aston-Reese - sending him headfirst into the boards. Kevin Porter came flying in with a retaliatory cross-check into Morin's back and the two players each sat for matching minors.

Alex Lyon was the story of the first period for the Phantoms, stopping all 14 shots he faced - sometimes under heavy pressure from extended Penguins' offensive zone time - and getting Lehigh Valley to the first intermission in a 0-0 tie.

Lehigh Valley got off to a strong start in the 2nd period, rattling off four shots in the opening few shifts and getting in on the attack - something they were unable to do in the first frame.

The Phantoms drew themselves a power play 4:08 into the period, but were unable to convert - giving the Penguins back the momentum from the first period.

Then, things got extra chippy. An intense battle between Greg Carey and Oskar Sundqvist drew the ire of the fans in Wilkes-Barre. It didn't get any quieter when 5-7 Andy Miele challenged the 6-3 Penguins forward to drop the gloves. The big Swedish-born forward declined, but there was still a scrap as Danick Martel and Tom Kostopoulos tumbled to the ice together.

The ensuing matching minors provided the second bout of four-on-four hockey, and this time the Penguins took advantage and took a 1-0 lead.

Dominik Simon got a puck to Ryan Haggerty, who found Frank Corrado on the backdoor for a tap in that caught Lyon's arm but rolled over the goal line 6:47 into the middle frame for Corrado's second of the season and first since joining the Penguins in a trade back on trade deadline day.

After more back and forth action, it was the Penguins adding to their lead late in the middle frame after relentless pressure had Lehigh Valley pinned in their own end for quite some time. Eventually, a David Warsofsky shot through traffic bounced in past Lyon off of newcomer Troy Josephs. Josephs' first pro goal gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead with 2:57 left before the second intermission, and they took that lead into the third period.

It was a game that felt like Lehigh Valley was never really in. After matching roughing minors 6:43 into the final frame, the Penguins tacked on an insurance marker during the ensuing four-on-four stint to put the game out of reach. Derrick Pouliot's point shot eluded Lyon with 13:00 left in regulation.

Shortly after the goal - after a routine save by Lyon on Jean-Sebastien Dea - Lyon was pulled from action in favor of Martin Ouellette, who finished the final 12:52 of regulation in net. After the game, head coach Scott Gordon confirmed there wasn't an injury to Lyon. It was just a precaution with the goalie situation in Philadelphia combined with the Phantoms' lack of effort and a Sunday game in Hershey looming.



1st Period

4:11: LV - (PP) Miele, minor (slashing)
9:12: LV - Morin, minor (boarding)
9:12: WBS - Porter, minor (cross-checking)
10:45: WBS - (PP) Dea, minor (tripping)
17:50: LV - (PP) Hagg, minor (holding)

2nd Period

4:08: WBS - (PP) Erixon, minor (tripping)
6:29: LV - Martel, minor (roughing)
6:29: WBS - Kostopoulos, minor (roughing)
6:47: WBS - Corrado (2) - Haggerty, Simon
17:03: WBS - Josephs (1) - Warsofsky, Corrado

3rd Period

6:43: LV - Brennan, minor (roughing)
6:43: WBS - Aston-Reese, minor (roughing)
7:00: WBS - Pouliot (7) - Sundqvist, Simon
12:55: LV - (PP) Goulbourne, minor (high-sticking)


Lehigh Valley  0 - 0 - 0 = 0
W-B/Scranton  0 - 2 - 1 = 3


Lehigh Valley  7 - 12 - 7 = 26
W-B/Scranton  14 - 17 - 14 = 45


LV - Alex Lyon (34 saves - 37 shots) and Marton Ouellette (8 saves - 8 shots)
WBS - Casey DeSmith (26 saves - 26 shots)

Power Play

LV: 0-for-2
WBS: 0-for-3

Penalty Kill

LV: 3-for-3
WBS: 2-for-2

Attendance: 8,125


Alex Lyon (34 saves - 37 shots in 46:51 of work) got the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley against the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre, as Anthony Stolarz was called up to Philadelphia on an emergency basis due to Steve Mason's illness.

Martin Ouellette (8 saves - 8 shots in 12:52 of work) was called up from the Flyers' ECHL affiliate in Reading to back up Lyon.

Captain Colin McDonald was recalled by Philadelphia after Friday night's loss to Bridgeport.

Greg Carey returned to game action in Wilkes-Barre after having missed the previous two games with an undisclosed injury.

Chris Conner (upper body) returned Friday after a five-game injury absence.

Reece Willcox was reassigned to ECHL Reading prior to Friday's game. With the Royals at home this weekend and within driving distance, best to allow Willcox to play rather than sit out of the AHL lineup.

The latest breaking injury news comes in the form of an update to defenseman Will O'Neill's injury he sustained early in the 1st period of Saturday's 4-1 win against Utica on March 11th. O'Neill was seen sporting a cast on his left wrist at the team's annual team photo day earlier this week - a sign he's going to be out longer term. Let's put him in the four-to-six week range, meaning he can hopefully get healthy for the postseason.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed their 2014-3rd round draft pick, defenseman Mark Friedman, to an entry level contract beginning in the 2017-18 season. The former Bowling Green State Univeristy product, who tallied 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 40 games this season in the WCHA, will join the Phantoms this weekend on a tryout contract for the remainder of the season. He participated in his first on-ice practice with the Phantoms Friday in Whitehall.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was initially expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. He was seen at a recent Phantoms game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants. His season and a potential return to the lineup remain in the balance.


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