ALLENTOWN— No question, the Phantoms are a better team than the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who have dropped 10 (!) straight, and prior to tonight hadn’t scored in nearly 200 minutes -- but the Phantoms love to take games into overtime.
After dropping a one-goal lead in the third and allowing overtime, Phantoms leading scorer Jason Akeson (18 goals, 18 assists) put this one away just 48 seconds into the OT period, giving Leigh Valley an important two points in the 2-1 victory.
During the short intermission between the third period and overtime Akeson said he and Brandon Manning designed a play that "worked out perfectly." Manning dropped the puck to Akeson as they crossed over the point. Akeson's shot sailed through traffic, hitting the crossbar and in to end the game.
Rob Zepp started in net Friday, saving 26 of 27, and his comfort and composure in the net was apparent.
Murray confirmed Friday that the Phantoms will "lean on" Zepp for the remainder of the season, and will receive most starts. Previously Zepp and Stolarz have split the season, with 32 and 23 starts, respectively.
"I have an obligation, responsibility to the team to [start our best players]. Right now Zepp looks dialed in," Murray said. "He's got experience in this environment, he's looking for the big win... So I'll lean on him pretty heavily."
Realistically, with Bridgeport so far behind in the standings, the game should have been decided in regulation, but at this point, the Sound Tigers have nothing to lose.
Head coach Terry Murray said it was a " very easy game" for Bridgeport as the last-place team in the Eastern Conference can play with risks with no pressure. Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin received credit from Murray for stopping any and all pressure from Lehigh Valley. Poulin had 25 saves on 27 shots.
Brett Hextall netted the first Phantoms goal Friday off a perfectly executed forecheck from Delisle and Rosehill who sent the puck to Hextall in the slot.
- Friday was the Phantoms seventh overtime decision in their last 10 games and 19th total this season. The win advanced them to 7-6 in OT and 5-1 in shootouts.
- No. 8 Providence downed No. 2 Hershey tonight in a 2-1 decision. With that, the Phantoms still sit nine-points behind the eighth and final playoff spot with 20 games remaining in the regular season.
- Scott Laughton was a late scratch Friday due to illness.
- Thursday Phantoms head coach Terry Murray and Shayne Gostisbehere told Gary Blockus of the Morning Call that the team has decided to shut down Gostisbehere for the remainder of the season in order to allow for proper rehabilitation since his ACL surgery in November. Ron Hextall, however, told Flyers media that no decision had been made regarding the rookie d-man, and a doctor’s appointment in two weeks would be the deciding factor on his return. Friday, Murray retracted his statement, saying he "shouldn’t have said anything [Thursday.]" We can speculate that Murray and Hextall have had this conversation before—but Murray made the announcement too soon. When the issue is revisited in two weeks, I assume the same conclusion will be made, so don’t expect to see Ghost in a game until next season.
- Gostisbehere is still wearing a red no-contact jersey in practice.