Photo: Nina Weiss/Flyerdelphia
For the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, they were trying to sweep a perfect weekend after being swept the previous week.
Unfortunately, the Albany Devils had other ideas.
Petr Straka had a goal late in regulation and Anthony Stolarz, (Pictured) making his third consecutive start, made 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss before 8,959 fans Saturday night at PPL Center.
The Devils' style is what many consider to be boring. Much like their parent club, they play a defense first, trapping style. It worked very well, especially in the first. The Phantoms managed only 3 shots in the frame.
Just when it looked like both teams might head to the locker room scoreless, Mike Sislo changed all that with 35 seconds remaining. He collected the rebound of a Matt Lorito shot in the near circle. Joseph Blandisi (literally) jumped in front of Stolarz to screen him, and Sislo's shot went top shelf. In addition to Lorito, Blake Coleman also picked an assist.
The Devils' were content to sit on the puck, and they did, for the entire second period, Lehigh Valley had some chances, but the only highlight of the period was a fight between Sam Morin and Blandisi.
Blandisi, the Ontario Hockey League Player of the Year last season, gave up 7 inches and 27 pounds to Morin. Somehow, he managed to hang in for about 20 seconds before they both fell to the ice.
In the third, The Phantoms made a push, and it earned them a point. They put 14 shots in front of Albany goalie Doug Carr, and Straka finally put one home at 10:32. Carr lost track of a Tyrell Goulbourne shot at the edge of the crease and fell to his stomach. Straka pulled the puck out of the pile and flicked it into the back of the net for his team-leading ninth of the season.
In Overtime, an overplayed puck by Stolarz gave the Devils the extra point. Blandisi passed the puck to Corey Tropp on a 2 on 1. Tropp held the puck until he was next to the net.
He put the puck through the crease In the process, it went between the legs of both Danick Martel and Morin. With Stolarz out of position, Blandisi had an easy slam dunk into the open net.
Notes: With Taylor Leier and Shayne Gostisbehere called up to the Flyers late Friday night, Brandon Alderson and Matt Lashoff took their respective places in the lineup. Friday night, former Phantom and Flyers' netminder Michael Leighton earned his 200th career AHL win as the Rockford Icehogs downed the Iowa Wild 2-1. Head Coach Scott Gordon said after the game that if all goes well, Aaron Palushaj and Colin McDonald will return to the lineup next weekend.
Quotes: Scott Gordon on taking too long on adjusting to Albany's trapping style: "Definitely. Three shots and five in the second. Countless turnovers. We certainly made it very hard on ourselves and to their credit they play a style that allows them to be one of the top teams for shots against. They have a great penalty kill and a good power play and apparently some pretty good goaltending too."
Petr Straka, on Albany's style: "It's just ugly hockey. I don't know if they're happy with how they play, but that's how they do it. We have to battle it and obviously we played some offensive teams recently. Binghamton, it's 80 shots in the game against them so this is whole different hockey. We needed to adjust and it shouldn't take that much time but it did. I thought we were lucky to just be down one goal at that point."
3 Stars: 3) ALB-Doug Carr (Win, 21 Saves) 2) LV-Anthony Stolarz (27 Saves) 1) ALB-Joseph Blandisi (Overtime Game Winner)
Up Next: Lehigh Valley returns to next action next weekend, with a road 3 in 3 that includes a game in Hartford on Saturday bookended by games against Providence on Friday and Sunday. The roadtrip concludes the day before Thanksgiving in Utica against the Comets.