Preview: Phantoms at Penguins, Game #54

Saturday, March 9, 6:05 p.m.
Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Lehigh Valley (23-23-7) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (29-19-8)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (23-23-7) travel up the turnpike to rematch with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 6:05. The Baby Pens took the series opener at PPL Center in a 3-2 comeback win on Friday.
Tonight is also the first of five straight on the road for the Phantoms.
The Phantoms and Penguins are facing each other three times in a four-game stretch for Lehigh Valley.
Lehigh Valley is in a sixth-place tie by points percentage with the Springfield Thunderbirds in the battle for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Phantoms and Penguins are meeting for the seventh time out of 12 meetings this season. Lehigh Valley is 3-3-0 against the Penguins with all three of their series wins coming in overtime or shootout.
Tonight is the 54th game of the season. There are 19 games remaining in the 2023-24 campaign.

Rhett Gardner reached 100 career points in the AHL with his second-career two-goal game but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins rallied from a 2-1 deficit with a pair of strikes in the third to stun the Phantoms 3-2. Lukas Svejkovsky tied the game early in the final frame and then Corey Andovski’s tip in the slot with just 2:08 to go held up as the game-winner.

Trade Deadline Day also meant several transactions involving the Phantoms.
Wade Allison was traded to Nashville and now joins the Milwaukee Admirals.
Additionlly, Olle Lycskell and Adam Ginning have returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Allison was traded by the Flyers to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Denis Gurianov. Allison played in 84 games with the Phantoms over parts of three seasons scoring 24-19-43. This season with the Phantoms, Allison has scored 10-7-17 in 47 games. He also played in 75 NHL games with the Flyers scoring 13-9-22. He now joins the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.

Lycksell leads the Phantoms with 18 goals and has scored 18-14-32 in 34 games with Lehigh Valley this season. The 24-year-old left wing has scored six goals in his last six games with the Phantoms dating back to January. He has also played in nine games with the Flyers this season scoring 0-3-3.

Ginning has been loaned back to the Phantoms after a quick recall to Philadelphia where he played in Thursday’s win at the Florida Panthers. That was Ginning’s first NHL game of the season and the second of his career. The 6-4 defenseman has played in 52 games with the Phantoms this season scoring two goals with 11 assists for 13 points and also 120 career games with Lehigh Valley scoring 5-27-32.

The Philadelphia Flyers made three more transactions yesterday affecting Phantoms players. Ronnie Attard, Bobby Brink and Felix Sandstrom were all loaned to Lehigh Valley at the trade deadline at 3:00 p.m. and then immediately recalled back to Philadelphia. It is required that any currently contracted player be on the team’s AHL roster at the trade deadline in order to be allowed to play for the AHL team after the deadline. These transactions ensure that Attard, Brink and Sandstrom are eligible to return to Lehigh Valley at any point moving forward in the regular season or postseason.

20-year-old rookie J-R Avon is tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals on just six attempts this season. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland is the only other player with five.
The Phantoms are tied for the league lead with four shootout wins. The Cleveland Monsters and Abborstford Canucks also have four. Lehigh Valley is also second in the league with nine total shootout goals trailing only Cleveland who has 11.
The Phantoms have gone to overtime or shootout in 17 games this year which is one off the league lead held by Rochester and Cleveland who both have 18. The Phantoms are 6-5 in overtimes and 4-2 in shootouts for a combined mark of 10-7 after regulation.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 14-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 16-5-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 12-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 16-6-7
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-2

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (29-19-8) is hanging on to third place in the Atlantic Division ahead of hard-charging Hartford.
The Baby Pens actually have a lower points percentage than fourth-place Hartford but still have more total points to hang on to the higher position. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is coming off a weekend split against Charlotte.
Now three times this season, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has traded its top scorer. Defenseman Ty Smith (9-23-32) was dealt on Thursday to Carolina as part of a multi-player trade but is also going to stay with the Baby Pens on loan from the Hurricanes. Rem Pitlick was dealt to Chicago in December and, more recently, Alex Nylander was traded to Columbus where he scored a hat trick last week. Backup goaltender Magnus Hellburg was dealt to the Florida Panthers yesterday.
Sam Poulin (11-12-13) had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick at the Phantoms in January. Rookie goaltender Joel Blomqvist (18-8-5, 2.12, .920) represented the Penguins at the AHL All-Star Classic and rates third in the AHL in goals-against average and is first among goalies who don’t play for Hershey.
The way the standings look now, a Phantoms vs. Penguins matchup in a 6 vs. 3 series in the first round of the playoffs certainly seems possible. The Phantoms are 3-3-0 against the Penguins this year with all three of their wins coming in overtime or shootout. Lehigh Valley is 2-0-0 at Wilkes-Barre via overtime wins on February 21 from Cooper Marody and January 6 from Samu Tuomaala. The visiting team has won five out of six times in the season series.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 14-31-45
Samu Tuomaala 13-24-37
Olle Lycksell 18-14-32
Emil Andrae 4-24-28
Tanner Laczynski 8-18-26
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Penguins Scoring Leaders
Ty Smith 9-24-33
x – Alex Nylander 17-15-32
x – Rem Pitlick 8-16-24
Sam Poulin 11-12-23
Peter Abbandonato 7-16-23
x – Jonathan Gruden 13-10-23

Lehigh Valley PP, 20.9% (5th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 80.5% (22nd) – Series PP vs. WBS 4/14 (28.6%)
WBS PP 16.2% (29th) – WBS PK 84.7% (4th) – Series PP vs. LV 3/17 (17.6%)

Jan. 6 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 (OT)
Jan. 26 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 at Lehigh Valley 3
Feb. 3 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 at Lehigh Valley 1
Feb. 9 – WIN – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 at Lehigh Valley 5 (SO)
Feb. 21 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 3 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2 (OT)
Mar. 8 – LOSS – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 at Lehigh Valley 2

Mar. 9 (6:05) Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Mar. 13 (7:05) Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Mar. 24 (3:05) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley
Mar. 30 (6:05) Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Apr. 7 (3:05) Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Apr. 20 (7:05) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley
Cooper Marody 3-2-5
Rhett Gardner 3-2-5
Jon-Randall Avon 2-3-5
Samu Tuomaala 2-2-4
Brendan Furry 1-3-4
Parker Gahagen 0-1-0, 2.02, .920

Vinnie Hinostroza 1-5-6
x – Alex Nylander 3-2-5
x – Jonathan Gruden 1-4-5
Sam Poulin 2-2-4
x – Ty Smith 2-2-4
Joel Blomqvist 2-0-2, 2.45, .915

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Lehigh Valley’s five-game road swing continues with a Sunday afternoon clash at the Bridgeport Islanders at 3:00 p.m.

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Saturday, March 9 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Sunday, March 10 (3:00) at Bridgeport Islanders

Wednesday, March 13 (7:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Friday, March 15 (7:05) at Providence Bruins
Saturday, March 16 (7:05) at Providence Bruins