ALLENTOWN, PA – Lehigh Valley Head Coach Scott Gordon wanted fewer mistakes than what cost them a win Friday versus Bridgeport. In that regard, it was mission accomplished. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for two points. Former NHLer Tanner Glass scored twice, and Nicklas Jernson scored 1:55 into overtime to thwart a furious third period Phantoms rally Saturday Night at PPL Center.
The Hartford Wolf Pack struck first, four minutes into the game. Glass deflected a Michael Paliotta point shot up over the shoulder of Phantoms’ netminder Alex Lyon at 3:57. A few minutes after that, the Phantoms best chance of the period. Corban Knight had a two on one with Radel Fazleev, but he hit the post.
The Phantoms’ had three power plays in the period. After not getting a decent look in the first two, they got multiple good looks on one late in the period, but couldn’t solve Hartford goalie Magnus Hellberg.
Things looked bleak for the Phantoms after 2 periods. Knight tied the game at 7:51 busting down the wing shorthanded and beat Hellberg glove side. Unfortunately for Lehigh Valley, things wound up looking bleak after the period, thanks to two Wolf Pack power play goals. John Gilmour got the first. At 16:59, his point shot beat Lyon. 2:05 later, Justin Fontaine beat Lyon from the slot off a sideboard feed from Calle Andersson.
The goals were only the 2nd and 3rd power play goals the Phantoms’ had given up this season.
The third period featured a wild comeback, end-to-end rushes reminiscent of a three-on-three overtime, wild saves and scoring chances aplenty.
Lehigh Valley tied the game with back-to-back goals less than three minutes apart, in the first half of the final frame. Andy Miele got his first of the season, scoring a goal very similar to Fontaine’s late in the second at 5:05. 2:58 later, a great effort from Taylor Leier and determination from Mark Zengerle knotted the game. Leier got the rebound of a Jordan Weal shot, tried to cut to the net, but the puck rolled off of his stick.
Zengerle collected the puck, and, while falling down, shoveled it into the net. 1:43 after that, Tanner Glass got his second of the game, picking up the rebound of a Ryan Graves (pictured) point shot and put it home.
A hallmark of last year’s Phantoms squad was resilience. This years’ team may be shaping up to have the same quality.
Danick Martel and Chris Conner teamed up for a spectacular goal at 10:59. Martel took the puck behind the net, and with a defender draped all over him, whipped a wraparound pass through the crease to Conner, who chipped it over Hellberg and into the net.
Despite both teams getting chances late, this game was destined for free hockey. It did not take long to get a winner. Nicklas Jensen took a pass from Robin Kovacs and flew into the zone. While cutting into the slot, he whipped a wrister that ultimately ruined Alex Lyon’s professional debut.
Notes: With the exception of Lyon, the Phantoms’ used the same lineup as last night. That meant that once again, Cole Bardreau and Petr Straka were healthy scratches.
Quotes: Lyon, on his first professional game and exposure to three on 3 overtime: “In the first I had a little bit of nerves, but after that, to be quite honest I felt good. Felt smooth and fluid. Gave up a few that I’d like back for sure, but I felt quite good. I was telling [Anthony Stolarz] before three-on-three that in college, you go five-on-five for five minutes then you go home. So it was wild, to be honest. Until about halfway through the third, I hadn’t even considered that, so it changes a lot. You make one big mistake, and it’s in the back of your net. And in my case, that’s what happened.”
3 Stars: 3) LV-Chris Conner (Goal) 2) HFD-Tanner Glass (2 Goals) 1) HFD-Nicklas Jensen (Overtime Game Winner)
Up Next: These two teams travel up Interstate 84 for a rematch at the XL Center in Hartford on Friday, October 28th.