The Phantoms, 4th in the AHL's East Division, take on the division-leader Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight in Allentown for another intra-state, divisional rivalry game.
Tonight's 7:05 puck drop will be the fifth of 12 matchups between the two rivals, with the Phantoms falling to 1-3 against the Penguins (15-9-1-1) this season. Lehigh Valley has not beaten the Penguins since the season opener in Wilkes-Barre where the Phantoms won 5-2.
Since, the Penguins have outscored the Phantoms 12-8.
- With a 6-2-2-1 record in the newly constructed PPL Center, the Phantoms hold the most dominant home-ice advantage in the East Division. Last time the Phantoms welcomed the Penguins to Allentown, Zack Stortini forced overtime with a late 3rd period goal, but the Penguins would hand the Phantoms their first home loss with a power play goal in extra time.
- Five of the Phantoms' 11 home games have been decided in extra time, including two shootouts.
- The Phantoms have found ways to win at home, but have allowed to scoring gap to remain small. Lehigh Valley has outscored opponents 31-25 in its first six home wins and three overtime appearances on home ice.
- The Phantoms sit at .500 with a 10-10-2-1 overall record, and the fewest games played of any AHL team.
- This is the second weekend in a row that the Phantoms will play three-in-three.
- Last night the Phantoms were handed a 3-1 loss in Binghamton, with Zack Stortini netting the only Phantoms goal just two minutes after puck drop. Starting goaltender Rob Zepp, and Taylor Leier assisted Stortini’s goal.
- Despite just two goals and six assists this season, Terry Murray sees Stortini as a veteran weapon.
"Wherever I play Stortini, good things are happening," Murray said in November, crediting a more constant first line to Stortini’s presence.
- The Penguins have two top-10 goaltenders (based on GAA) on their roster, with Jeff Zatkoff ranked fourth in the league, allowing just 16 goals in 254 shots faced this season (1.89 GAA). Penguins rookie Matt Murray, has allowed 22 goals in 256 shots faced (2.11).
- Zepp has allowed 39 goals in 480 shots faced (2.60 GAA), with a 7-5-3 record. Anthony Stolarz, 3-5, 22 allowed, 248 faced.
- The Phantoms will hold an Eagles tailgate tonight to get ready for Sunday’s much-anticipated Eagles home matchup against the "Stinkin Cowboys." The Phantoms "Go Birds Tailgate" including special guests Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Baldinger and your favorite Eagles cheerleaders. The Phantoms will sport a special edition Eagles green jersey for tonight’s game and all jerseys will be auctioned off to fans after the final buzzer.
- Tonight is anticipated to be another standing room only sellout, and the fifth sellout of the season. Despite not reaching sell-out standing, each of the other seven home games have had more than 8,000 fans in attendance. With the Phantoms finally here, the Lehigh Valley is quickly becoming a coveted hockey town.