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Phantoms 4, Bruins 3: Alex Lyon drove the Phantoms to a series clinching win

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This game truly had everything. Amazing goaltending, a big scrum, and overtime heroics. What more can you want?

Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The biggest news of the day was the absences of a few key players for both teams — for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms it was the regular season MVP Phil Varone, and for the Providence Bruins it was Peter Cehlarik, who scored 2 goals in game 2, and Ryan Fitzgerald, who scored 2 goals in game 1.

1st period

The puck was dropped… and a whistle. Just four seconds in the puck got chipped over the glass and we had our second faceoff of the game. It was a pretty perfect start given that the rest of the opening two minutes would go the same way. Faceoff after faceoff.

The first scoring chance came around five minutes into the game when Oskar Lindblom stole puck from a Bruins’ defenseman, found Chris Conner wide open in front of the net for a shot. His shot missed the net but then the puck bounced off the boards right to Corban Knight in front, but he was denied by a huge save by Jordan Binnington.

Those missed chances were sent to the back of everybody’s minds pretty quickly as only two minutes later T.J. Brennan put the Phantoms up 1-0! His point shot went in off of Bruins’ defenseman Chris Breen. The Phantoms wouldn’t stop there either, as just 37 seconds later Chris Conner would increase their lead to two goals! It all started with a great zone entry by Lindblom.

Now down by two, the Bruins began to fight back not with goals, but with their fists. On the Phantoms side of things it involved all ofTyrell Goulbourne, Cole Bardreau, Colin McDonald, Philippe Myers, and Travis Sanheim. In the end, only one minor penalty was called, sending the Phantoms to their first power play of the game. Goulbourne, Bardreau, Tommy Cross, and Jordan Szwarz each received 10 minute misconducts.

Following that mess the game’s pace slowed down a bit. Well, until this. Greg Carey found Conner skating up the ice and was able to send him on the breakaway where he buried to puck 5-hole to give the Phantoms a 3-0 lead.

After the period was over Danick Martel got punched by the glove hand of Binnington as the nastiness continued.

At the end of the 1st period the Phantoms had a 3-0 lead, and had the edge in shots on goal 14-6.

2nd period

After allowing three goals in the first period, Binnington was pulled from the game and Zane McItyre entered. Just six minutes into the period it was clear that this would be much calmer. Not much happened until 10 minutes into the period when Sanheim took a holding penalty, sending the Phantoms to the penalty kill. During the Bruins power play Jakub Zboril ending up taking a high-sticking penalty which meant it was time for a little 4-on-4 hockey, something that the Phantoms have had a ton of trouble with this season.

The Bruins controlled most of the period and Lyon had to make some huge saves, a trend that would continue all night long. Providence got on the board with just over two minutes remaining when Cross’s point shot hit Knight’s stick and beat Lyon high blocker side

It was a shaky end to the period for the Phantoms, but the score remained 3-1. The shots on goal were 14-6 in favor of the Bruins, the exact opposite of period one.

3rd period

Things got really bad once the third period began and score effects took a firm grasp on this game. Lehigh Valley got themselves into penalty trouble twice, with Mark Freidman being called for cross-checking just 43 seconds in and Radel Fazleev getting called for high-sticking just few minutes later. The Phantoms were successful on both kills, limiting the Bruins to just point shots. The unit of Knight, Goulbourne, Sanheim, and Willcox did especially well at boxing out the Bruins’ power play.

However, following the great kills, the Bruins would once again strike. This time it was Anton Blidh who deflected a point shot from Breen that beat Lyon. Blidh was one of two Bruins standing directly in front of Lyon without being pressured by a Phantom. It was a case of playing not to lose rather than playing to win that did the Phantoms in tonight, as a third goal came off a re-direction by Austin Czarnik. Truthfully it’s what Lehigh Valley deserved after being stuck in their own end for almost the entire period.

With just over three minutes remaining, Greg Carey almost took the lead back with a shot right out in front, but McIntyre was up to the task and made a great save. Lyon had to make one more huge save to send the game to overtime.

At the end of the period, the Bruins scored the only two goals and outshot the Phantoms 18-4 to lead 38-24 overall.

OT

Much like the third period, the Bruins carried the play. It wasn’t until four minutes in that the Phantoms got their first shot on goal, off the stick of captain Colin McDonald. Jordan Szwarz had a huge chance alone in front of the net but Lyon made a humongous pad save to make the game continue.

Just following that chance, Karson Kuhlman, who was playing in his first AHL playoff game, had his shot go off the post with 14:30 left in the period.

With 10 minutes remaining there was a net front scramble and the puck somehow stayed out. Lyon may have got a piece of it, it was hard to tell. Providence continued to throw shots at Lyon, this time it was Paul Postma who had a great chance from the slot but Lyon was able to get his glove on it.

As if it wasn’t going bad enough for the Phantoms, next they allowed two odd-man rushes in a row and Lyon had to come up, yet again, huge. The period was truly all Bruins.

With just about 90 seconds remaining in the period and the shots being 14-3 in favor of the Bruins, Max Lamarche rushed down the ice and threw a seemingly harmless shot at the net, and it wound up in the net! It was only the Phantoms’ 28th shot in the game.

Goals were scored by T.J. Brennan, Chris Conner (2), and Max Lamarche. Alex Lyon was by far the first star of the game, making 49 saves on 52 shots.

This win means that the Phantoms will move on to Round 2 and will face the Charlotte Checkers beginning Friday, May 4th, at Lehigh Valley.