PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Penguins, Game #61

Sunday, March 24, 3:05 p.m.
PPL Center, Allentown, PA
Lehigh Valley (27-25-8) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (31-22-9)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-25-8) and their Push for the Playoffs continues as they host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the final day of a three-game homestand.
Today is also Kids Takeover Day at the Phantoms and will also feature a postgame autograph session with the players presented by NJM Insurance.
The Phantoms occupy the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and hold a one-point lead over the Springfield Thunderbirds with just 12 games remaining while Lehigh Valley also has two games-in-hand entering today’s contest.
The Penguins are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Utica Comets on Saturday and have slipped to fourth place in the Atlantic Division. But today’s rivalry showdown is still one of the more likely potential Calder Cup Playoff matchups in late April. The Phantoms are 4-4-0 against the Baby Pens with four games remaining in the season series. The away team has won six out of eight times.
Tonight is the 61st game of the season. There are just 12 games remaining.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 20 points.

Adam Brooks scored in the second period for his ninth point in the last four games but that was all the Phantoms could get past Bridgeport goaltender Ken Appleby in a 2-1 loss at PPL Center on Saturday night. Ruslan Iskhaov led the Islanders with a goal and an assist including the game-winning tally late in the second.

Trailing at the second intermission has proven to be no problem for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who lead the AHL with eight comeback wins this season. The third-period rallies have also included five wins on the road after facing a deficit at the second intermission and three of those rallies have been at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

AHL Scoring Leaders from March 15 through March 23
Adam Brooks, LV, 4-5-9
Tanner Laczynski, LV, 5-3-8
Cole Guttman, Rockford, 5-3-8

AHL Power Play Assists
1st (Tied) Cooper Marody, 19

AHL Power Play Points
2nd (Tied) Cooper Marody, 24

AHL Rookie Scoring
8th (Tied) Samu Tuomaala, 14-27-41

AHL Rookie Power-Play Points
2nd (Tied) Samu Tuomaala, 7-13-20

AHL Rookie Power-Play Assists
2nd Emil Andrae, 15 (also 1st among defensemen)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have pushed ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds for the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with just 12 games remaining.
Lehigh Valley’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is at 20 points.
The top six teams in the Atlantic qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first round is a Best of 3 series and right now would see the Phantoms take on the rival Charlotte Checkers in a 6 vs. 3 matchup in late April but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are only one point behind Charlotte for the 3 spot.
Lehigh Valley’s second-round matchup would be against first-place Hershey in a Best of 5 series.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 18-0-2
– Allow 3 or fewer goals: 19-6-3
– Lead After 1st period: 7-1-2
– Lead After 2nd period: 13-2-1
– One-Goal Games: 18-6-8
– Overtime: 6-5 / Shootout: 4-3

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (31-22-9)has dropped two straight to slip to fourth in the Atlantic behind surging Charlotte. The Penguins were shutout by Akira Schmid and the Utica Comets 3-0 on Saturday despite 39 shots. Last week, the Penguins took three of four points at North Division-leading Cleveland in a Sunday/Monday series that included a Radim Zohorna hat trick in a 5-2 win to close the set. The Baby Pens have gone 3-0-1 at PPL Center while the Phantoms are 3-1-0 in Northeast Pennsylvania in a series that has seen the visiting team win on six of eight occasions. Defenseman Ty Smith (9-28-37) leads the offense and stayed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton even after he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina second-rounder Vasily Ponomarev joined the Pens in that same trade that sent Jake Guentzel to the Canes. Joel Blomqvist (20-10-6, 2.16, .918) is third in the AHL in goals-against average and recorded his first career shutout last week against the Phantoms. Blomqvist is 3-1-2, 2.33, .917 against the Phantoms and NHL veteran Vinnie Hinostroza has scored 1-6-7 in the season series.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 15-32-47
Samu Tuomaala 14-27-41
x – Olle Lycksell 19-19-38
Tanner Laczynski 13-21-34
Emil Andrae 4-26-30
x – Ronnie Attard 10-15-25

Penguins Scoring Leaders
Ty Smith 9-28-37
x Alex Nylander 17-15-32
Sam Poulin 13-13-26
Vinnie Hinostroza 12-14-26
Peter Abbandonato 7-16-23

Lehigh Valley PP, 20.2% (7th)  – Lehigh Valley PK 81.0% (19th) – Series PP vs. WBS 5/23 (21.7%)
W-B/Scranton PP 16.4% (28th) – W-B/Scranton PK 84.3% (4th) – Series PP vs. LV 4/27 (14.8%)

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 – WIN – Lehigh Valley 4 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2
Mar. 13 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 0 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3

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
Rhett Gardner 3-4-7
Cooper Marody 3-4-7
Samu Tuomaala 3-3-6
Brendan Furry 2-3-5
J-R Avon 2-3-5
Parker Gahagen 1-1-0, 2.01, .930

Vinnie Hinostroza 1-6-7
x – Alex Nylander 3-2-5
Sam Poulin 3-3-6
Ty Smith 2-3-5
Jonathan Gruden 1-4-5
Corey Andonovski 1-4-5
Joel Blomqvist 3-1-2, 2.33, .917

The Phantoms open a three-game road trip with a Friday trek to central New York taking on the North Division-leading Syracuse Crunch. Lehigh Valley will rematch with the Penguins in northeast Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Lehigh Valley’s next home games are Friday, April 5 against the Providence Bruins on Berks $1 Hot Dog Night and Saturday, April 6 against the Cleveland Monsters on Star Wars Night

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE


Sunday, March 24 (3:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – Kids Takeover Day / Postgame Autographs Presented by NJM Insurance

Friday, March 29 (7:00) at Syracuse Crunch
Saturday, March 30 (6:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Tuesday, April 2 (7:00) at Hershey Bears

Friday, April 5 (7:05) vs. Providence Bruins – Berks $1 Hot Dog Night
Saturday, April 6 (7:05) vs. Cleveland Monsters – Star Wars Night