Playoff Atmosphere at Sold-Out PPL Center for Phantoms/Penguins Rivalry

Greg Carey Nets League-Leading 25th Goal in Overtime Tilt

February 25, 2017

Lehigh Valley, PA – The AHL’s postseason doesn’t officially get underway until mid-April but it was a playoff-style atmosphere inside PPL Center Saturday evening as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms battled their in-state rivals, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in front of a standing room-only sellout crowd of 8,869 raucous fans. Greg Carey (25th), Danick Martel (14th), and Corban Knight (7th) all scored for Lehigh Valley as the Phantoms earned a critical standings point in a 4-3 overtime setback to the rival Penguins.

With Saturday’s decision, Lehigh Valley moved to 34-17-3 overall this season as the Phantoms remained among the top four of the tightly-contested Atlantic Division. Lehigh Valley is now an impressive 18-7-2 when skating in front of its home fans at PPL Center.

For Carey, he moved into sole possession of first place among all AHL skaters with 25 total goals this year as he extended his current point streak to four straight games. The 26-year-old winger has now netted goals in three of his last four games and has tallied five total points during his recent surge.

Meanwhile, Knight remained red-hot offensively as he stretched his current scoring streak to six consecutive games as he’s amassed a goal and seven total points over his last six outings.

Lehigh Valley’s special teams played a big part in helping the club generate Saturday’s standings point as the power play converted a pair of man-advantage markers in three opportunities while the Phantoms’ penalty kill successfully thwarted each of the Penguins’ two power play chances. With Saturday’s effort, Lehigh Valley has notched two power play goals in each of its last four straight games while the Phantoms have now produced multiple man-advantage markers on 21 different occasions this season.

Goaltender Alex Lyon backstopped the effort with a solid 28-save performance as the first-year netminder moved to 21-10-3 overall this season.

Saturday’s game came in front of yet another PPL Center standing room-only sellout as Phantoms’ fans produced the fifth straight capacity crowd and 13th sellout overall this season. What’s more, the 8,869 raucous fans on hand to enjoy Saturday’s rivalry tilt marked the largest crowd to enjoy a Phantoms game this season.

The Penguins opened the scoring late in the first period when, during some open-ice four-on-four hockey, Kevin Porter connected with Tom Kostopoulous on a two-on-one transition rush resulting in Kostopoulos’ 20th goal of the season. The four-on-four conversion came 17:08 into the opening period and impressively marked Kostopoulos’ 202nd career AHL tally.

The Phantoms leveled the rivalry showdown just prior to the midway point of the second period when, while on the power play, Carey snapped home a wrist shot from the top of the right wing circle for his team-leading 25th goal of the year. T.J. Brennan and Andy Miele assisted on the man-advantage marker netted 8:43 into the middle stanza. Brennan’s assist extended his scoring streak to four consecutive games as the All-Star blueliner has now compiled an impressive seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) over his last four outings.

Lehigh Valley then grabbed its first lead of the night just under six minutes later when Martel won a battle for a loose puck within the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goal crease before jabbing in his 14th goal of the season. Chris Conner and Miele assisted on the even-strength strike netted 14:24 into the second period of play.

The Penguins didn’t back down though and evened the tilt less than two minutes later when Oskar Sundqvist’s centering feed deflected off Jarrett Burton before settling into the back of the Phantoms’ cage for Burton’s second goal of the season. Josh Archibald earned the secondary assist on the equalizing five-on-five tally generated 16:16 into the middle frame.

The back-and-forth affair steered back into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s favor early in the third period when Jean-Sebastien Dea was able to convert his 14th goal of the season and third tally in five head-to-head meetings with the Phantoms. Dominik Simon and Teddy Blueger assisted on the even-strength strike notched 2:04 into the final frame.

The Phantoms weren’t about to waiver though and Lehigh Valley was able to level the contest at three apiece just past the midway point of the third period when, while on the power play, Carey’s drive the right point produced a rebound at the side of the goal that was promptly punched in by Knight for his seventh goal of the year. Carey and Will O’Neill assisted on the man-advantage marker scored 12:03 into the final frame of regulation.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton landed the game’s final conversion though when, with just 15 seconds left in overtime, Barry Goers swatted in a rebound atop the goal crease for his first goal of the season. Simon and Blueger assisted on the game-winning goal, which moved the Phantoms to 2-2-1 against the rival Penguins this season.

The Phantoms are back in action next Friday, March 3 when the team kicks off a four-game road swing with a visit to MassMutual Center in Springfield for a 7:05 p.m. showdown with the Thunderbirds.