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RECAP: Phantoms take revenge, beat Wilkes-Barre 4-1 at home

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After two embarrassing loses on home ice this week, the Phantoms struck back Saturday against Wilkes-Barre, playing their best hockey and locking in a 4-1 victory, breaking a four-game losing streak.

Pat Jacoby

ALLENTOWN— If there wasn’t bad blood between these two East Division rivals because of their NHL affiliates, the Penguins' last visit to Lehigh Valley (when they handed the Phantoms their first shutout at home) was certainly cause for a tense game on Saturday. Just five seconds after puck drop, Brett Hextall and Dominik Uher exchanged a few words and dropped the gloves for a long 1:25 bout, firing both teams up for a long, physical night of AHL hockey.

The Phantoms played 40 minutes of their best hockey this season after that fight, earning an early three-goal lead over fourth place Wilkes-Barre, breaking Lehigh Valley's four-game losing streak in front of the biggest Phantoms home crowd this season in a 4-1 decision over the Penguins.

Scott Laughton started it off for Lehigh Valley with a direct shot from the right circle, developing a trend for the Phantoms, who have had a hard time finding the back of the net. Jesper Pettersson scored just 75 seconds later from the same place for his second career goal. D-man Steven Delisle then scored from the right circle on the other end of the ice in the second period for his second goal of the season. Despite only having two goals this season, head coach Terry Murray said Delisle has an "NHL shot" and is dangerous far in the offensive zone.

Laughton would give the Phantoms their fourth and final goal just over a minute left in regulation sending a shot from the red line into an empty net. Laughton wasn't aware that his final goal in the third period was the only shot the Phantoms took in the last 20 minutes. Wilkes-Barre out shot Lehigh Valley 19-1 in the third period.

  • Rob Zepp saved 33-of-34 and lost his shutout on a reviewed goal. The goal in question bounced around the right post before it was pushed in by a skate past Zepp's right pad. The goal was reviewed and deemed a good goal.
  • Saturday was the largest Phantoms attendance of the year with 9,017 fans in the PPL Center.
  • Jason Akeson played Saturday evening for the Phantoms after an early morning emergency recall to Philadelphia. After returning from Philadelphia, Akeson tallied three assists in the 4-1 victory. The winger was a healthy scratch for the Flyers matchup against the Sharks Saturday afternoon and was eligible for AHL ice time once he returned with Mark Alt and Oliver Lauridsen to Lehigh Valley. Alt, who played more than nine minutes in his NHL debut, and Lauridsen were scratched for the Phantoms Saturday.
  • ATO signee Nick Luukko made his pro debut against Wilkes-Barre and looked comfortable and composed on the ice despite the drastic difference in speed from the NCAA to the AHL. Luukko was at the rink Wednesday to watch the team fall to Syracuse 6-1, and said it was great to have his pro debut come during an important victory over the Penguins.
  • Darroll Powe was scratched again Saturday after leaving the Phantoms last game vs. Wilkes-Barre early with a possible concussion. Murray said the center is "in a quiet place at home" and had not been to the rink since his injury last week. If his injury is in fact a concussion, this would be his second of the season and at least his fourth of his professional career.
  • D-man Brandon Manning played a full 25 minutes for the Flyers just two days after being called up to Philadelphia for the fifth time this season. His appearance Saturday was the most NHL ice time Manning has seen this season with 37 shifts.
  • Tomorrow the Phantoms welcome the Manchester Monarchs, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. After Saturday's game Murray said he was unsure of who would start in net on Sunday. Previously the head coach named Rob Zepp his No. 1 goaltender barring any injury or call ups. However, the 33-year-old worked for the Phantoms win Saturday, facing 19 shots in the final 20 minutes.