Springfield, MA–Two things happened on Friday night that were very out of place for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. First, the Springfield Falcons beat them, which had not happened all season. Second, they were outshot, managing just 25 shots for the entire contest.
Dryden Hunt and Paul Thompson three-point nights, and Reto Berra made 22 saves to lead the Springfield Thunderbirds to a 5-3 win at MassMutual Center.
One might look at the box score, see there were only 11 combined shots, and assume that the frame was boring. That wasn’t the case, as there was end to end action from both teams.
With 13:05 left, Greg Carey did what he does best, scoring his league-leading 16th power play goal, and his fifth of the season against the Thunderbirds. Corban Knight wired a pass to the bottom of the right circle from the left corner, and Carey finished a one-timer that beat Berra.
If the first period was action-packed, the second period was pure insanity. It featured a combined 32 shots, six goals, as well as four lead changes. Kyle Rau got the fun started for Springfield at 8:07 when he put a Sena Acolatse feed past Anthony Stolarz at 8:07.
Less than a minute later, Thompson got his first of the evening on a wrister from the circle at 9:03, which caused Lehigh Valley Head Coach Scott Gordon to use his timeout and settle his troops.
The timeout was just what the Phantoms needed.
Just 2:24 after Rau’s goal, Radel Fazleev tied the game when he chipped the rebound of a Cole Bardreau shot over Berra, who was trying to cover the puck. The goal was Fazleev’s fifth tally of the season.
Springfield’s John Brown got in a scrum after the goal with Bardreau, Brown got four minutes, while Bardreau only got two, and the Phantoms wasted very little time converting the man-advantage. Chris Conner fired home a shot from the slot at 11:42. The assists went to Fazleev and T.J. Brennan.
That was two goals in 15 seconds and suddenly the Phantoms held a 3-2 advantage.
No one could have blamed Springfield if they were dejected, but they continued to bring the fight. Hunt deflected a Thompson backhander through the legs of Stolarz at 16:37 for his first goal since the 27th of January.
A little more than two minutes later, Thompson beat Stolarz with a shot from nearly the same spot as his first of the night, and the Thunderbirds suddenly found themselves taking a 4-3 lead to the dressing room.
The Phantoms had some push in the third but were unable to convert two power plays in the first 10 minutes. With both teams getting less than 10 shots in the period, it was Hunt icing the game with 1:59 left, scoring an empty netter from the center red line.
With a minute left, Ryan Horvat fought Brennan after Brennan hauled down Juho Lammikko on a breakaway.
Bottom line, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton falling to Utica, the Phantoms missed a golden opportunity to close ground on the Penguins, especially considering they have now lost four straight. Oh, yeah…they roll into Allentown for a pivotal matchup tomorrow night.
3 Stars: 3) LV-Radel Fazleev (Goal, Assist)
2) SPR-Dryden Hunt (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
1) SPR-Paul Thompson (2 Goals, 1 Assist)