ALLENTOWN, Penn. – After squeaking by and taking game 1 in the final two minutes Friday night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms looked to extend their lead in the series with another home victory.
Before the game, Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon announced that Travis Sanheim will not return for the rest of the Atlantic Division Finals after sustaining a knee injury in the final two minutes of Friday night’s contest. In the wake of Sanheim’s injury, Sam Morin returned to the Phantoms lineup tonight for his first taste of game action since January 20th. Tyrell Goulbourne also returned to the lineup for Scott Gordon’s club after getting hurt late in game 4 of their first road series against Providence.
As for the netminders for game 2, Alex Nedeljkovic again for Charlotte and Dustin Tokarski for Lehigh Valley. It was Tokarski’s second start of the playoffs for the Phantoms and he got the win in game 3 of the Providence series.
Similar to game 1, the Checkers able to light the lamp first thanks to one of the youngest guys on the team Jane Kuorkkane’s power-play goal for his second goal of the playoffs. Then some emotion started to boil over on the Phantoms side as Nic Aube-Kubel dished out a vicious cross-check on Josiah Didier. Didier was a little wobbly heading off the ice and could lead to Aube-Kubel being suspended for the third time this season.
Off an Oskar Lindblom turnover in the neutral zone, Charlotte would double their lead thanks Lucas Wallmark. For Wallmark, it was his third of the playoffs.
Through the first 20 minutes of the game, there was definitely more physicality than last night. One of would think this is all in response to the Sanheim injury,
In the first four minutes of the second, it looked like the Checkers were trying to let the Phantoms back into the game after sustaining back-to-back penalties. The 24th ranked penalty kill unit came up huge, keeping the Phantoms off the scoreboard for the time being.
In a period where it looked like the Phantoms have all the momentum, it was Charlotte that found the scoreboard as with a lot of traffic in front of Tokarski. Philip Samuelsson would get one behind the Phantoms netminder on the Checkers first shot of the period.
With less than a minute to go in the second, the Checkers would pick up their second power play as the number one enemy by Phantoms fans for this series Valentin Zykov would tip in his second goal of the series.
In the third, the Phantoms would play angry hockey taking six penalties including a 10-minute misconduct by Danick Martel for abuse of officials. In the final minute of the game, Charlotte would get two more goals to extend their lead and to send to the fans to the exits.
When the final horn sounded, after having their 10-game winning streak snapped last night the Charlotte Checkers ended the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 10-game home winning streak with a 6-0 victory. Alex Nedejkovic made 26 saves for his first shutout of the postseason. It was Alex’s first road shutout of the season.
The Phantoms power play continued to struggle without Phil Varone in the lineup as it went 0-for-6. In the first two games of this series, the Lehigh Valley power play is an abysmal 1-for-11.
The series now shifts to the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina for the next three with game 3 Tuesday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 EDT.
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