LEHIGH VALLEY — With back-to-back shutouts this past Saturday and Sunday night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms goaltending tandem of Dustin Tokarski and John Muse have been named the PSECU Players of the Week.
Despite the Phantoms starting the three-in-three weekend off with a 4-3 shootout loss against the Hartford Wolf Pack, Lehigh Valley rebounded with two huge, playoff-like, performances against divisional opponents inside of PPL Center.
Saturday, the black and orange welcomed the Providence Bruins to Allentown for only the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Tokarski got the start between the pipes as the Phantoms looked to inch closer to a 2018 Calder Cup Playoff spot.
After a scoreless first period, that saw Tokarski turn aside 15 shots from the opposition, the Phantoms would find offense in an unlikely place. The penalty kill.
Just past the halfway mark of the second period, Radel Fazleev converted off a 2-on-1 pass from Tyrell Goulbourne to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead. Nearly seven minutes later, Lehigh Valley would increase the lead to 2-0 as Phil Varone notched the team’s 10th shorthanded goal of the season and second of the game.
The two shorthanded goals would mark the first time the Phantoms have accomplished such a feat since March 21, 2014, against the Utica Comets. Lehigh Valley’s now 10 shorthanded markers also ties the team for fourth in the league in that category.
Tokarski completed the shutout — his fourth of the season — by making 18 more saves on the night, for a total of 33, en route to first-star honors. Over the course of his four shutouts this season, Tokarski has made 141 saves: 39, 40, 29 and now 33, respectively. The ninth-year pro now holds a record of 17-7-2 with a 2.71 goal-against average and a .913 save percentage.
On Sunday, the Springfield Thunderbirds came into PPL Center for an afternoon game against the Phantoms. John Muse received the starting nod from head coach Scott Gordon for the final game of the team’s three-in-three weekend.
Similar to the way Saturday night’s game unfolded, Lehigh Valley and Springfield would be scoreless heading into the middle frame. Danick Martel broke the scoreless tie with 4:30 left in the second to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead. Two more third period markers — from Chris Conner and Greg Carey — would see the Phantoms stretch their lead to 3-0.
Muse, who raised his record to 10-1-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage, stopped all 23 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season at the AHL level. To date, he has two shutouts at the ECHL level this season with the Reading Royals. Like his netminding counterpart, Muse would also earn first-star honors for his shutout performance on Sunday.
The last time the Phantoms posted back-to-back shutouts was during the 2013-14 season when Cal Heeter posted a 1-0 shutout over the Hershey Bears on January 2, 2014, and followed that up with a 4-0 blanking of the Albany Devils the next evening.
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Prior PSECU Players of the Week
3-12-18 Greg Carey
3-5-18 Mikhail Vorobyev
2-26-18 Phil Varone
2-19-18 Travis Sanheim
2-12-18 Corban Knight
2-5-18 John Muse
1-29-18 Alex Lyon
1-22-18 Chris Conner
1-15-18 Nic Aube-Kubel
1-8-18 T.J. Brennan
12-18-17 Corban Knight
12-11-17 Tyrell Goulbourne
12-4-17 Corban Knight
11-27-17 Greg Carey
11-20-17 Mike Vecchione
11-13-17 Phil Varone
11-6-17 Chris Conner
10-30-17 Oskar Lindblom
10-23-17 Dustin Tokarski
10-16-17 Mike Vecchione / Philippe Myers
10-9-17 Danick Martel