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Phantoms take on red-hot Worcester Sharks in another mid-week matchup

Puck-drop at 7:05 for the Sharks' last appearance in the PPL Center before move to San Jose.

After an important 6-2 divisional win on Saturday, the Phantoms return home to take on Worcester.

Tonight is the third matchup of the Phantoms four-game series with the Sharks. So far, the Phantoms have split the series with Worcester. Last time in Allentown, the Phantoms shutout the Sharks 4-0, giving Anthony Stolarz his first AHL win, and his first pro shutout.

The Sharks (23-16-3-2) have won 10 of their last 12 matchups, including an eight-game run in January While the Phantoms (21-18-4-1) have struggled this month, Lehigh Valley may have turned their bad-luck around.

Can one win turn the Phantoms season around?

After losing five of their last six matchups, the Phantoms traveled to Wilkes-Barre Saturday to battle another East Division rival with something to prove. Before puck-drop Saturday, Lehigh Valley had earned just two points in its last six divisional matchups, and had been outscored 14-29 against teams in the East.

The Phantoms had dropped two games in their three-in-three weekend already, with fundamental issues and composure plaguing the young team.

But after going down by two goals mid-way through the first period, the Phantoms bounced back, scoring six unanswered points by six different Lehigh Valley goal scores.

Jesper Pettersson and Adam Comrie notched their first Phantoms goals, and first pro for d-man Pettersson. Both had detrimental turnovers that led to goals in the Phantoms 6-1 loss to Hershey on Friday.

Pettersson’s goal "lifted the bench up a thousand miles in the air," according to alternate captain Andrew Gordon, who kicked off the Phantoms goal surge.

Goals were also scored by Taylor Leier, Nick Cousins and Jason Akeson, with two assists each from both Cousins and Leier.

Despite falling behind early the team did exactly that Terry Murray had been preaching about all season—they kept their composure.

A win like that could recharge the struggling Phantoms for the second half of the season.

East Division standings

The Phantoms sit in third place in the East Division, seven points behind second-place Wilkes-Barre and nine points behind Hershey. Lehigh Valley holds three games in-hand over the Penguins, but as the only East Division team with a game tonight, Hershey will have a game in-hand over the Phantoms after tonight’s puck-drop.

With 47 points the Phantoms sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, six points out of the playoff-push.

Worcester sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the eighth place playoff-cutoff.

Nick Cousins named CMM/AHL Player of the Month

January was a good month for Phantoms center Nick Counsins who led the league with 17 points in 13 games, including his first career hat trick in Phantoms 5-1 victory over division rival, Binghamton.

Cousins netted seven goals in the month of January for 14 this season, doubling his number of goals in 13 games.

Cousins leads the team in scoring (34 points) and is tied with alternate captain Andrew Gordon as leading goal scorer with 14 goals.

Petr Straka re-joins the Phantoms

Petr Straka returned to Lehigh Valley this week after a successful three-game stretch with the Philadelphia Flyers where he earned two points in his first three NHL games. The forward notched two helpers in game-winning goals over the Jets and the Maple Leafs last week.

Prior to being recalled by the Flyers, Straka was in the middle of a three-game goal scoring streak for the Phantoms, with 17 total points.