ALLENTOWN, PA – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms dropped the last game of their three-in-three decisively Sunday night, losing to the Toronto Marlies 5-1. The North Division’s top team was all over the Phantoms for 40 of the game’s 60 minutes, with only the first period having the ice on an equal plane. Danick Martel notched the Phantoms only goal in the loss, giving him 13 goals in 13 games.

Lehigh Valley got the scoring starting early again Sunday afternoon, with the most likely suspect getting the goal. Calle Rosen tried to clear a puck deep behind his net up the far wall, but Nic Aube-Kubel stopped it with his skate and carried toward the slot. He zipped a pass toward the front of the net, where he found Martel alone, and Martel beat Calvin Pickard easily to make it 1-0 Phantoms. The goal marked Martel’s 13th in 13 games played, which leads the league.

Toronto would even things up on the power play later in the period. Maxim Lamarche went off for hooking at the 12:03 mark, and the Marlies only needed 25 seconds to expose the Phantoms worst ranked penalty kill. A shot on goal from the far wall pinballed in Dustin Tokarski‘s crease, and the Phantoms net minder could not settle the loose puck. That allowed Chris Mueller to find it and pop it into the net to tie the game. The goal was the 14 power play goal the Phantoms have allowed this season, the second most in the league.

Toronto got another chance to expose the weak Phantoms penalty kill toward the end of the period, with Aube-Kubel off for slashing. That chance increased moments later, where a scrum in Tokarski’s net lead to a fight between Cole Bardreau and Dmytro Timashov. Bardreau won the fight handily, but ended up with an extra two-minute instigation minor, along with a 10-minute misconduct, forcing the Phantoms PK to go to work down two men, everything seemed to be going the Marlies way. The Phantoms completely killed off both penalties however, sending the game into the second period tied at one.

Toronto ended up scoring twice in the second, despite the Phantoms having the only power plays. The Marlies got their first just over half way through the period, with Chris Mueller setting up the play. He tried to send a pass from below the goal line out to Timashov, but it bounced off the Toronto forward and out to Trevor Moore. Moore then launched a shot through traffic, that found the twine behind Tokarski to make it 2-1.

Five minutes later, Ben Smith made the lead two by potting a rebound high to the blocker side of Tokarski. A point shot from Rosen bounced off the pad of Tokarski, right out to Moore, who wasted no time getting a wrist shot off and burying it to make it 3-1. On the Phantoms side of things, both Toronto goals came after Lehigh Valley had a 5-on-3 chance to start the middle frame, and were unable to connect. They would start the third period with another chance on their power play however, with Nikita Soshnikov taking a hooking minor with no time left in the second.

The Phantoms would allow that chance to go by the wayside as well, barely generating any sort of offensive on their third period opening power play. From there, Lehigh Valley ended up icing the puck three times in the three minutes after their power play expired to the 15 minute remaining mark of the third, looking completely lost against the North Division’s top team.

Toronto started capitalizing on those mistakes, first by beating Tokarski to a loose puck. A pointshot from Timashov bounced off the end boards behind the Phantoms net, and squirted toward the side of the cage. Tokarski tried to glove it, but he was beaten to the puck by Soshnikov, who popped the disk into the top of the net from a bad angle to make it 4-1. The Marlies added another goal with just above 2 minutes left, taking advantage of a turnover at the Phantoms blue line. This time, Moore stripped Will O’Neill of the puck and skated down the far side, he ripped a wrist shot that went through the pads of Tokarski, making it 5-1, which would be the final score.

The Phantoms dropped their final game of their three-in-three weekend, losing the two games that mattered most. Lehigh Valley had a chance Friday night to take sole possession of first place in the Atlantic and could not, and tonight had a chance to tie Wilkes-Barre for first with the Penguins losing in a shootout to Hershey, but could not capitalize. Tokarski put in a decent effort, making 31 saves, but gave up five goals in the loss. His counterpart Calvin Pickard made 35 saves, earning him first star honors.

3 STARS:

3rd: TOR LW Mason Marchment (2A)
2nd: TOR C Chris Mueller (1G, 1A, +2)
1st: TOR G Calvin Pickard (35 saves)

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