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Marlies 4, Phantoms 3: Lehigh Valley drops Game 1

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The Phantoms had a 3-2 lead midway through the second period, but fell short in the end.

Miro Aaltonen, pictured above during a game in November, scored two goals today in Toronto’s Game 1 win.
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Phantoms had plenty of great news headed into Game 1, with the returns of Travis Sanheim, Phil Varone, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. The first two were out with injuries, while Aube-Kubel was sitting out due to a suspension. In what was a battle between the best goaltender in the regular season and the best goaltender in the playoffs thus far, the offensive players took the spotlight away.

1st Period

The first scoring chance of the game came just 1:11 into the game when Chris Conner attempted to make a pass to Mike Vecchione when the puck hit off a defender’s skate, slowing up and actually allowing Vecchione to get it in a better spot. He then found Conner in what was a mini 2-on-0 with Sparks, who was able to slide across the blue paint and make the save.

About five minutes into the game Sanheim stepped up in the neutral zone and failed to stop the rush, resulting in a 2-on-1 chance for the Marlies. Nicolas Aube-Kubel sped up and was able to catch up to Chris Mueller who he hooked just before he could make a cross ice pass. This would send the Marlies to the first power play of the game and they would not let it go to waste.

They made pretty quick work of it, as just over a minute into it Andreas Johnsson made a shot pass that found Miro Aaltonen right in the slot for the re-direct goal. The Marlies were up 1-0 with just over thirteen minutes remaining in the period.

They continued to apply pressure and generating chances for the next six minutes, resulting in another Toronto goal. Sanheim had turned the puck over to Johnsson when he tried to send it up the boards, and he found Aaltonen right in front of Lyon for his second goal of the game.

The beginning of the rough play began when Mason Marchment hit Sanheim into the boards a bit late and was called for roughing. The Phantoms’ ensuing power play didn’t look great for the first minute, but they were still able to get a goal out of it! Once the second unit hit the ice it was Philippe Myers who was able to beat Garrett Sparks from the point. It was an absolute bullet of a shot.

The Marlies had a 2-1 lead after the first period and outshot the Phantoms 11-9.

2nd Period

After a somewhat slow start, the Phantoms tied the game up! It all started when Sanheim stole the puck from Dmytro Timashov and made an outlet pass to Corban Knight. Knight then took the puck deep into the Marlies’ zone before finding Tyrell Goulbourne in the slot for a one timer that beat Sparks and tied the game.

Following the goal however, it was all Marlies. At one point they had a shots on goal advantage of 7-2 early in the period! All the offensive pressure did earn them a power play when Mikhail Vorobyev slashed Miro Aaltonen nine and a half minutes into the period.

The power play would last just a minute as Lindblom was boarded by Johnsson, sending the game to 4-on-4. While it was certainly a penalty, it wasn’t one of those boarding penalties that should result in supplemental discipline. On the very next shift Lindblom was high-sticked by Travis Dermott and immediately left the ice with as blood hit the ice. Two rough shifts in a row for Oskar.

Not much happened on the short 4-on-3 power play, and once Vorobyev left the box the Phantoms had 50 seconds of a 5-on-3 that they didn’t generate much with. Sanheim was shoved into the goal post during this time and was slow to get up – but he was fine, no worries.

It was during a 5-on-4 power play when Myers sent Conner off to the races with 2:20 left in the double minor penalty and he scored off the rush!

Since Conner scored before the first minor expired, the Phantoms went right back the power play. This one didn’t go their way as they actually failed to register a shot on goal out of it.

Following up a successful penalty kill, the Marlies struck. It was a gorgeous passing play that started with a great zone entry by Timashov who dropped the puck back to Mueller and Mueller was able to find Ben Smith cutting through the middle of the ice for a one-time goal. Just like that, we were all tied up again.

Then it was time for a mini brawl! Okay brawl might be too harsh of a word, it was more of a small scrum. Nothing too drastic occurred during it and four players in total got roughing minors out of it. For the Phantoms it was Vorobyev and Martel, and for the Marlies it was Dermott and Mueller.

The shots on goal during the period were 12-11 in favor of the Phantoms, and 22-21 in favor of the Marlies overall.

3rd Period

With a tied game in Game 1 the third period started a bit slow, as you’d expect it to, but just three minutes and eighteen seconds into the period Adam Brooks took a sharp angle shot from the left boards that beat Lyon blocker side to once again give the Marlies the lead.

One of the Phantoms best chances came at the 12:11 mark of the period when Conner hit the post from a pretty sharp angle. There was a bit of room above Sparks’ blocked but Conner just barely missed the net.

Then Lyon came up huge to keep the game close with a miraculous save on a cross-ice pass.

Scott Gordon pulled Lyon for an extra attacker with two minutes and twenty seconds left in the period, giving the Phantoms a 6-on-5 man advantage. Their best opportunity came with 32 seconds left when Phil Varone spotted Colin McDonald right in front of the net but was stopped by Sparks not once, but twice, when the rebound chance was also denied.

Time ran out and the Phantoms fell in Game 1 by a final score of 4-3. The final shots on goal in the game were 32-29 in favor of the Marlies.

Game 2 is tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.