PROVIDENCE, RI – The Lehigh Valley Phantoms rolled into Providence, Rhode Island Friday night looking to build off their most complete effort of the season Wednesday in Hartford.
You can say they accomplished their goal.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (pictured) scored a goal, Jordan Weal had two assists, and Anthony Stolarz made 27 saves as the Phantoms defeated the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Following the theme of their last couple of games, the Phantoms got on the board first, courtesy of a Mark Zengerle power play goal at 7:34. With Matt Bartkowski off for a high-sticking violation, it took Lehigh Valley just 10 seconds’ to convert the man-advantage. Weal won a faceoff, and Zengerle fired a shot on net from the far boards that eluded Malcolm Subban. The goal was Zengerle’s 4th of the season.
Unfortunately for the Phantoms, the lead lasted less than 10 minutes. Anton Blidh notched his third tally of the season at 16:44. Wayne Simpson crashed the net from the left side, and while Stolarz made the initial save, Blidh was there to clean up the rebound. Jordan Szwarz collected the secondary assist on the goal.
Right off the hop in the middle frame, Providence had a golden chance to take the lead. Colton Hargrove found himself wide open in the slot, and Stolarz made a dynamic save. Seconds after that. The Phantoms’ Chris Conner had a breakaway at the other end, but his shot missed the net.
Lehigh Valley took the lead at 7:36 on Aube-Kubel’s second of the season. Robert Hagg found Radel Fazleev with a perfectly executed stretch pass that led to a two-on-one. Fazleev placed a cross-ice pass to Aube-Kubel that led to a tap-in goal, as Subban was slow to react.
Less than four minutes later, Providence had two chances, seconds apart, foiled by Stolarz. Chris Breen was stoned on a one-timer, and seconds after that, Jake Debrusk was stopped point blank.
With just over a minute left, Lehigh Valley nearly took the lead when a Hagg slapper from the point was tipped by Cole Bardreau, but Subban was able to close his pads. Shots in the period were 14 apiece.
42 seconds into the third, a bomb from Greg Carey in the left circle made it 3-1. Similar to the Zengerle goal, Weal won a faceoff, got the puck back to T.J. Brennan who slid the puck to Carey. He unleashed a slapshot that beat Subban down low.
The Bruins wouldn’t go away, though.
With less than four minutes remaining, Jordan Szwarz deflected a Chris Porter point shot in the slot that beat Stolarz up high and just snuck under the crossbar. Any doubt for Lehigh Valley went away with 44 seconds left, when Scott Laughton, on a conditioning loan from the Philadelphia Flyers, scored an empty netter from center ice.
Impressions: While they didn’t look as good as they did on Wednesday, they got the two points, and that’s all that really matters. Laughton looked exactly how I expected him to look, like a guy that hadn’t played in weeks. Even though it was only an empty netter, his late goal had to be a confidence builder.
One guy who I was very hard on last year, Robert Hagg, seems to be rounding into the form he had two years ago under Terry Murray. He was involved in the offense, and unlike last season, was very sound defensively.
Notes: Scratched for Lehigh Valley were Danick Martel, who is still recovering from an injury last weekend in Bridgeport, missed his second consecutive game. Healthy scratches were Tyrell Goulbourne, Petr Straka, and Defenseman Maxim LaMarche.
★ – LV – Jordan Weal (2 Assists)
★★ – LV – Anthony Stolarz (27 Saves)
★★★ – PRO – Jordan Szwarz (Goal, Assist)
Up Next: The Phantoms return to the comforts of PPL Center tonight when they host the Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05.