ALLENTOWN, PA – After splitting the first two games of their opening round in Providence, the series shifted to PPL Center for the final three games. In the regular season, when Providence came to Allentown, things didn’t pan out well for them. The Bruins went 0-3 while being outscored 8-2 which included back-to-back shutouts by Phantoms goalie Dustin Tokarski. Before the game, the Phantoms were given a significant boost as forward Oskar Lindblom and defensemen Travis Sanheim made their series debuts after being sent down from the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this week.
Phantoms coach Scott Gordon decided to start Dustin Tokarski in net after Alex Lyon faced an average of 38 shots a game in the first two games of this series. Tokarski hasn’t lost a home game for the Phantoms since March 9th which was the last time the Phantoms lost a home game. It was also the only time in the second half that Lehigh Valley lost a home game in regulation.
As for the Bruins, head coach Jay Leach decided to go with Jordan Binnington in game 3. Binnington started last Saturday and recorded the victory after making 23 saves on 26 Lehigh Valley shots.
It was a complete 180 from the first two games up in Providence as the first period was all Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms opened the scoring at the 6:05 mark of the first period on a rush Mike Vecchione found Philippe Myers, and he buried one for his third point of the series. The Phantoms would double their lead on a shorthanded lamplighter by Oskar Lindblom. The Bruins thought that Lindblom kicked it in and Jay Leach used his coach’s challenge to have the officials check. It was a good goal, and Providence lost their only timeout in the opening period.
When the second frame started, the Phantoms kept their foot on the gas. After a game of tic-tac-toe, Lindblom would score his second goal of the night. Travis Sanheim and the AHL MVP Phil Varone with the assists. The Bruins didn’t want to get shutout for the third straight game inside the PPL Center and thanks to Austin Czarnik, that problem was solved at the 13:42 mark. For Czarnik, the goal was his first of the playoffs and fifth point of the series. The Bruins would finally come alive in the second period, but Tokarski would come up huge, allowing just the one goal.
Emotions and tempers flared on both sides starting back in the second period on a questionable hit on Varone at the blueline. Varone went to the bench gingerly and did not return to the contest.
Even with the all the tempers flaring on both sides, Dustin Tokarski made multiple big saves including one on the penalty kill after a slapshot from Bruins captain Tommy Cross from in front of the blue line. In all, Tokarski was a brick wall in the third period, stopping all 16 shots faced.
With 4:44 to go in the game the Massachusetts native, Mike Vecchione, would put this game on ice with his second of the series. Watching the replay, it looks like Maxim Lamarche tipped it in.
When the final horn sounded, with Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, and many more Flyers executives in attendance, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms took a 2-1 series lead, defeating the Providence Bruins by the score of 4-1.
The Phantoms extended their home winning streak to eight games and have to chance to close out this series in game 4 tonight. Puck drop is going to be around 7:05 EDT. Be sure to follow @SinBinPhantoms for live tweets.