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Phantoms shutout at home by East Division rival, Wilkes-Barre Penguins

For the first time, Lehigh Valley was shutout in its new home in a rough 3-0 loss to the Penguins.

Pat Jacoby Photography

ALLENTOWN— With 14 regular season games remaining and 10 points out of playoff contention, the Phantoms sense of urgency during each game should be skyrocketing, but like their big brothers in Philadelphia, they're running out of steam.

After playing a solid first 30 minutes of play, Sunday, the Phantoms allowed their East Division rival, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins to shut them out for the first time on home ice this season.

Coming into Sunday’s matchup both teams had played two games in two and a half days, with extensive travel in between. After 32 scoreless minutes of AHL hockey the Penguins send two shots past Rob Zepp in 63 seconds. If Terry Murray were taking lessons from Craig Berube, he would have pulled Zepp for inconsistent rookie Anthony Stolarz—but thank the hockey gods he didn’t.

The Phantoms were facing arguably the best goaltender in the league, who has posted a 1.64 GAA average and after Sunday, 10 (!) shutouts this season. Murray joins just three other AHL goaltenders to have 10 or more shutouts in one season. Murray registered 32 saves Sunday against the Phantoms.

Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said he didn't think the team challenged Matt Murray much tonight, however. Lehigh Valley out-shot the Penguins 8-0 in the first 10 minutes of the first period, but couldn't find any rebounds in the offensive zone.

Despite controlling the game early, the Phantoms couldn’t put it away. And with virtually zero chance of making the playoffs (less than 0.3 percent according to Sports Club Stats) the Phantoms "sense of accomplishment" is dwindling.

  • According to SCS the Phantoms must win-out their remaining 13 games in order to have a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs, not including variables from around the league.
  • The Phantoms went 0-3 this weekend for the first time in six three-in-three marathons this season.
  • Phantoms goaltender Rob Zepp saved 16 of 18 shots. Penguins scored an empty net goal with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
  • Announced Sunday afternoon, Phantom’s center Blair Jones was handed a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head on Hartford’s Tommy Hughes during his first game back in the lineup after missing eight weeks with a lower body injury. Jones played the next day in Worcester before the AHL announced the suspension Sunday.
  • Center Darroll Powe left Sunday's game early due to an undisclosed injury. Being the third center unavailable on the Phantoms roster (Nick Cousins on loan, Blair Jones one-game suspension), newbie Cole Bardreau stepped up to the second line with Zack Stortini and Andrew Gordon, and earned his first professional minutes on a power play unit.