Penguins Even Rivalry Series on Valentine's Day
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored his seventh of the season but the Phantoms comeback efforts were eventually dashed by a late Penguins' surge in a 5-1 Valentine's Day final in Wilkes-Barre Township on Tuesday evening. Oskar Sundqvist (15th, 16th) led the first-place Penguins with a pair of goals.
The result evens the season series at 2-2 between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The home team has won all four games of the rivalry series that still has eight more encounters on tap beginning with a February 25th rematch at PPL Center.
The Phantoms' record moved to 32-15-2 with the result as the team suffered consecutive regulation losses for just the second time all season. In 49 games on the 2016-17 campaign, Lehigh Valley's longest losing streak is just two which happened on October 29-30 and again on February 11-14.
The Phantoms overall record in 11 total Valentine's Day games stands at 4-4-1-2 overall. First-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton improved their league-leading mark to 37-11-3 as Tristan Jarry recorded 27 stops for the win. Anthony Stolarz made 38 stops in the Phantoms cause.
The game marked the 700th professional contest for Chris Conner who had some of the best seasons of his career in the Penguins organization with both Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh.
The Phantoms were without some of their key players who were absent from the lineup due to injuries; Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton and Boyd Gordon.
The game could easily have gone back for the Phantoms but every time they needed a key bounce or an officials' decision it just wasn't to be....or Jarry would make a big save. Colin McDonald thought he had put the Phantoms on the board in the opening minutes of the second period when a puck bounced off the top of the net and deflected into the goal behind Jarry but the officials waived off the key strike on high sticking.
"We have a goal called back and that's a huge turning point," said Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon. "That puck wasn't touched by our guy. It landed off the netting, bounced up in the air, and then their guy hit the puck into their net. That's a huge turning point. But when it's all said and done we gave up way too many chances."
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton gained early momentum with a power-play conversion by Derrick Pouliot (4th) from the right point at 5:37 for a 1-0 advantage. Dominik Simon (8th) struck at 17:03 on a steal in the corner by Jean-Sebastian Dea to make it 2-0 at the first intermission.
Lehigh Valley had a carry-over power play to begin the second period but Oskar Sundqvist raced away and barely tapped through his shorthanded opportunity past the skates of Anthony Stolarz for a 3-0 Penguins advantage.
Just seconds later came McDonald's apparent conversion from behind the net but the tally that was initially ruled a goal was eventually waived off after the officials' discussion.
Lehigh Valley would strike at 9:10 into the second period when rookie Aube-Kubel rushed up the left-wing for a sharp-angle shot that went off the pads of Jarry. Aube-Kubel follwed his shot, picked up the rebound and then went wide behind the net for an opportunity on the other side which he rifled through Jarry to cut the deficit to 3-1.
"I took the puck in neutral zone with speed," Aube-Kubel said. "I just wanted to put the puck on the net and create some chances. And then the wrap-around I got lucky when it hit their player."
The Phantoms had the better of the play for almost the entirety of the second period but the wind was taken out of their sails when Dominik Simon found Dea on the right boards to snipe over the near shoulder of Stolarz and off the back-bar and back out. Dea's 13th of the season in the closing minutes of the second period provided the Penguins with a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Andy Miele rushed forward with Greg Carey on a 2-on-1 for a glorious opportunity to snag one of them back but Miele's drive rang off the left post and out. Greg Carey had numerous opportunites on the day but his powerful blasts were either swallowed in by Jarry or were just glanced away.
Oskar Sundqvist concluded the scoring at 4:20 into the third with his offering from the left corner that appeared to deflect some off Samuel Morin and then off the leg of Stolarz on an unfortunately sequence of bounces.
The Penguins out shot Lehigh Valley 43-28. The Phantoms were 0-for-6 on the power play while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished 1-for-7.
The Phantoms return to PPL Center this weekend for a pair of games against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Friday night is meLVin's Birthday Bash with all his mascot friends. Saturday is 90's Night as the Phantoms bring on the retro-style fun. Tickets for upcoming Phantoms home games are available online HERE.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5 - Status: Final
Tuesday - Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
Lehigh Valley 0 1 0 - 1
W-B/Scranton 2 2 1 - 5
1st Period-1, W-B/Scranton, Pouliot 4 (Gill, Blueger), 5:37 (PP). 2, W-B/Scranton, Simon 8 (Dea, Gill), 17:03. Penalties-Morin Lv (cross-checking), 4:21; Burton Wbs (holding), 6:00; Knight Lv (hooking), 11:56; McDonald Lv (fighting), 14:23; Burton Wbs (boarding, fighting), 14:23; Dea Wbs (goaltender interference), 19:32.
2nd Period-3, W-B/Scranton, Sundqvist 15 0:57 (SH). 4, Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel 7 (Alt, Knight), 9:10. 5, W-B/Scranton, Dea 13 (Simon, Blueger), 16:43. Penalties-Gaunce Wbs (interference), 2:17; Sanheim Lv (interference), 3:03; Kostopoulos Wbs (tripping), 5:22; Hagg Lv (slashing), 10:52; Bardreau Lv (diving/embellishment), 17:44; Kostopoulos Wbs (tripping), 17:44.
3rd Period-6, W-B/Scranton, Sundqvist 16 (Porter, Gaunce), 4:20. Penalties-Sundqvist Wbs (holding), 1:53; Carey Lv (slashing), 2:18; O'Neill Lv (tripping), 8:29; Morin Lv (delay of game), 16:14; Prow Wbs (cross-checking), 19:16.
Shots on Goal-Lehigh Valley 7-14-7-28. W-B/Scranton 15-18-10-43.
Power Play Opportunities-Lehigh Valley 0 / 7; W-B/Scranton 1 / 7.
Goalies-Lehigh Valley, Stolarz 11-6-0 (43 shots-38 saves). W-B/Scranton, Jarry 22-8-1 (28 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Tyler Puddifant (9), Evgenii Romasko (39).
Linesmen-Francois Dussureault (60), Jud Ritter (34).
For the latest Phantoms news, visit www.phantomshockey.com or follow the team on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/lehighvalleyphantoms), Twitter ( @lvphantoms), Instagram ( @lehighvalleyphantoms) and Snapchat (lvphantoms).
The Phantoms are coming off their 20th Anniversary Season and second campaign in the Lehigh Valley playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 20 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).
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