Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baby Pens slip by Phantoms in OT



By Rob Riches
Phanatic Hockey Correspondent
Twitter: @Riches61

ALLENTOWN, PA. -- Despite 43 shots on goal Wednesday, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were handed their first PPL Center loss in overtime on Wednesday night, 2-1 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, thanks to a score from Jean-Sebastien Dea.

The Penguins (5-4-0) capitalized twice on five power-play opportunities, including Jean-Sebastien Dea’s tally with just over two minutes remaining in the seven-minute overtime period. Dea scored on a one-timer from a Brian Dumoulin pass at the lower-left circle on a 4-on-3 man advantage, with Nick Cousins serving a holding penalty.

Their victory was a measure of revenge for a season-opening 5-2 loss to the Phantoms back on October 11. 

That wasn’t the first time the Pens scored with Cousins in the penalty box. Andrew Ebbett tallied his second of the season during a 5-on-3 advantage at the 11:17 mark of the first period, as Cousins and Scott Laughton served minors for slashing and cross-checking, respectively. They were the only penalties both players took all game.

“Obviously, you can’t be taking penalties in overtime,” Cousins said. “That’s my fault. I took two penalties, and they scored on both. I’ve got to be more disciplined.”

Phantoms hoach Terry Murray followed up with the organizational belief towards discipline: “That’s been a key word from the first day at the gathering at Voorhees [N.J.], right at the start of training camp,” Murray said. “The message was very clear from the organization.”

Cousins also finished with a point, however, as he set up Zack Stortini’s first goal as a Phantom with 4:01 to go in the second stanza. Stortini beat Matt Murray on a 2-on-1 opportunity, and already has a quarter of his goal total from last season, with Norfolk. Cousins’ assist gives him seven this season, and is tied with six other players (including former Phantom Kris Newbury) for second in the league.

The Phantoms failed to produce on the power play, despite getting nearly twice as many opportunities as the Penguins (nine). Subsequently, they’ve fallen from the second spot and now boast the league’s sixth-ranked power play, clicking at 22.2 percent.

Zepp made 30 saves on 32 shots, and his record now stands at 4-0-1. He’s posted 29 or more saves in four games this season. Murray, a 20-year-old rookie, posted an astounding 42 saves, thanks in part to the Phantoms’ shot selection and lack of presence in front of the net.

“Quite a few of those shot numbers came from the blue line without any net presence,” Murray added. “When you start shooting the puck from 60 feet out without any screens, you’re going to catch the puck, which he did.”

With the overtime loss, the Phantoms (4-2-1) earn a point, and fall to third in the East Division standings. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton moves into a tie with Hershey, with 10 points.

Notes:  Recalled defenseman Brett Flemming and Baby Pens winger Scott Wilson engaged in a spirited fight at 16:28 of the second period, after a Wilson hit on Cousins. … With Brandon Manning called up Wednesday morning by the Flyers, the Phantoms recalled defenseman Maxim Lamarche from Reading (ECHL). … Manning’s call-up means Lehigh Valley is without their top three defensemen, after Shayne Gostisbehere’s call-up last week and an upper-body injury to Mark Alt, who is expected to miss weeks with a suspected shoulder issue … The Phantoms and Penguins next meet on Nov. 14. … Murray also said that Brett Hextall is out day-to-day with an upper-body injury, after being scratched Wednesday. … Saturday’s matchup against Hartford will be the first of a four-game series. … Jay Rosehill was scratched once more to serve the second of his three-game suspension for an illegal check.
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