Photo: Nina Weiss/Flyerdelphia
Coming off of the holiday layoff, it was expected that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms would have some jump in their battle with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The jump was never there.
Taylor Beck and Joe Whitney scored goals, and Christopher Gibson (pictured) made 21 saves as the Sound Tigers edged the Phantoms 2-1 before a sellout crowd of 8,886 fans at PPL Center on Saturday Night.
Bridgeport had the jump early in the opening period, and it paid off as Bridgeport got on the board first with Beck's 8th of the season at 5:24. Having just exited the penalty box, Beck broke into the zone and took a pass from Bracken Kearns. He cut into the slot, and just inside the hashmark, wristed a shot top shelf over the glove hand of Phantoms' netminder Anthony Stolarz. In addition to Kearns, Jared Gomes collected an assist on the play.
After the goal, Lehigh Valley had three consecutive power plays in the period, but never really got much started. This would be a theme going forward.
The second period was a penalty parade. The Phantoms took three consecutive minors in the first fice minutes of the period. Jay Rosehill went off for boarding at 2:54. Mark Alt got the same at 3:51. 1:03 later, Kevin Goumas took a tripping call. While Lehigh Valley was able to kill the five on three, when it was their turn for the man-advantage, they again could not get anything going. Bridgeport made them pay.
Similar to the first goal, Sebastian Collberg had just come on to the ice after being in the box. Lehigh Valley's Robert Hagg fell down on a busted line change, resulting in Collberg and Whitney having a two on one against Samuel Morin. Collberg fed Whitney with a cross-ice pass and Whitney didn't miss with just 38.4 left in the period.
After two more tries on the power play early in the third, the Phantoms finally busted Gibson's shutout at the 13:30 mark. With Beck in the box for tripping, Hagg took a feed from Aaron Palushaj and ripped a one-timer from the top of the zone. Morin bagged the secondary assist. As much as they tried, the Phantoms just couldn't tie the game, bringing their mark on the year to 14-16-1, good for fifth in the 8-team Atlantic Division.
Notes: Overall, Lehigh Valley was 1-9 on the night with the man-advantage. Center and Alternate Captain Tim Brent returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with an unknown injury. With D Matt Lashoff hobbled, the team recalled D Jesper Pettersson from the ECHL Reading Royals. He played and was on the third defense pairing with Davis Drewiske.
Quotes: **I had issues with my recorder in the locker room. The only quotes we have tonight are from Head Coach Scott Gordon. That is as follows. If I can get player quotes from a colleague, I will update this tomorrow.**
On the power play issues: "For the most part, we've had zone time but haven't been able to get the puck to the net. We had a ton of shots, but we had a ton of shots blocked, too.We're doing a good job on faceoffs and getting pucks. We did a good job under pressure coming out with possession, but that possession isn't translating into enough chances. It's about getting shots to the net. Sometimes we wait too long, by the time we decide to shoot they're getting into the lane."
On what to expect against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow: "I'm sure they'll come out and be ready. There's no...that team had one weekend where they lost three in a row. For the most part they are a team that has a lot of weapons and they'll be ready to go."
On being happy with the overall number of shots: "In the second period, we didn't shoot the puck. And as I said, on the power play, At the end of the day, if you aren't getting shots through, all of that zone time and possession doesn't matter. We had some great looks in the first period. They were either blocked or he (Gibson) made saves. Give them credit, they have a pretty good penalty kill, they did a good job of getting in lanes."
3 Stars: 3) LV-Robert Hagg (Goal) 2) BPT-Joe Whitney (Goal) 1) BPT-Taylor Beck (Goal)
Up Next: The Phantoms travel up the PA Turnpike to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins today at 4:05 PM.