WILKES-BARRE, PA — Saturday was an interesting day day for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
First, the Philadelphia Flyers recalled Captain Colin McDonald early in the morning for the final few games games of the season. Then, around 5 O’Clock, after the team had already arrived in Wilkes-Barre, Anthony Stolarz hustled to get to Philadelphia, as Steve Mason was ill.
What did it all mean?
A disjointed effort resulting in only 26 shots and a Penguins shutout by Casey DeSmith, and suddenly, Lehigh Valley finds itself just three points ahead of 5th place Hershey, which would mean missing out on the Calder Cup Playoffs.
It was all Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to start the game. Teddy Blueger and Tom Kostopoulos were denied by Alex Lyon in the first 37 seconds of the game. The Penguins poured the pressure on for the entire period, and the Phantoms seemed a bit shell-shocked.
Lehigh Valley’s Sam Morin made a dangerous hit on Zach Aston-Reese in the corner at 7:53, when Kevin Porter retaliated, the teams went to four on four, and it resulted in the Phantoms best chance of the period. A fumbled puck by the Penguins came to T.J. Brennan in the slot, but his one-timer hit DeSmith in the chest.
The Penguins had a wonderful chance on a three on two minutes into the second, but the Alex Lyon made a great glove save. However, they would bust open the scoring just after a killed off a Phantoms power play. Oskar Sundqvist shot from the right circle led to a juicy rebound. Ryan Haggerty and Frank Corrado both got their sticks on the puck, but it was Corrado getting credit for the goal. His first as a Penguin and second of the season.
With 5:40 left, Cole Bardreau got DeSmith facing his own net. The puck found Mark Alt in the left circle. In an indication of how things have gone for Lehigh Valley lately, instead of hitting the wide open net, he hit the post.
Off the next faceoff, Greg Carey was robbed from the slot. On the Rush coming back the other way, Lyon made a great Blocker save on Haggerty. A few minutes later, the Penguins made it 2-0 on the first pro goal of Troy Josephs’ young career. Josephs deflected a David Warsofsky shot from the right point at 17:03.
With 90 seconds left in the period, DeSmith made a shoulder save on a Carey breakaway, preserving the shutout through 40 minutes.
Chris Conner had a nice chance 6:02 into the third, the shot down low led to a rebound that Scott Laughton couldn’t get a shot on. Derrick Pouliot scored on a one-timer from the point less than a minute later to essentially ice the game away. With Stolarz in Philadelphia, Alex Lyon was replaced by Martin Ouellette with 11:52 left in the game. He stopped all eight shots he faced.
Notes: Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a healthy scratch, paving the way for Greg Carey to return to the lineup after missing two games.
Playoff Update: With Providence falling to to Springfield, and Bridgeport down a struggling Hershey Squad, Hershey fell to fifth, While the Phantoms sit in second, leading Providence by one, and the Sound Tigers by a mere two points.
Up Next: Lehigh Valley travels to Hershey to close out their three in three weekend on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:05.