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Marlies 5, Phantoms 0: That was ugly

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The Phantoms are one loss away from elimination. No bueno.

Ben Smith, pictured above scoring a goal in Game 1, scored twice tonight in Toronto’s win.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

In what was the Phantoms’ first home game in 18 days, they were looking to avoid going down 3-0 in the series and, well, they failed to do so. In the battle of the goaltenders, Alex Lyon got ejected and Garret Sparks stopped all 16, yes, all 16 of the Phantoms shots. They had sixteen shots on goal. SIXTEEN. Anyway, let’s get into this game.

1st Period

Down 2-0 in the series, the Phantoms needed to have a strong start and they, well, did the exact opposite. Travis Sanheim turned the puck over to Andreas Johnsson behind the net, who then found Carl Grundstrom right in front of the net for a goal. Lyon had no chance.

Two minutes later they were given a huge opportunity to tie the game when Travis Dermott was called for interfering with captain Colin McDonald. The ensuing power play was bad. Like really bad. The best chance on the Phantoms’ power play came from the Marlies.

Sanheim really stood out in a bad way during the first period. He had two unforced turnovers in the first five minutes, and didn’t defend the blue line well. There was a third turnover on the Phantoms failed power play as well.

McDonald tried to keep his team into it and yet again drew another penalty, this time on Liljegren, but the opportunity would be squandered by a power play that did close to nothing. They were credited with no shots on goal and to my recollection had zero shot attempts.

Toronto got their first crack at the man advantage when Cole Bardreau was called for slashing with just over three minutes remaining in the period. This penalty kill may have been the lone bright spot for the Phantoms in the entire period. They boxed the Marlies out pretty well and didn’t allow Toronto a single shot on goal.

It was nice to see something positive to end the period as the Phantoms had looked flat through the first 16 minutes of the game.

At the end of the period the Phantoms trailed 1-0 and were outshot 11-3. Not great!

2nd Period

The Phantoms actually had a pretty good chance about 30 seconds in when McDonald took long range slap shot and Sparks couldn’t control rebound. However both Tyrell Goulbourne and T.J. Brennan couldn’t get to the puck.

Just over three minutes into the period Brennan’s point shot hit off the post. They were that close to not being shutout! But only two minutes later the Marlies would add to their lead. The playmaker from the first goal became the goal scorer as Johnsson scored his own. The puck seemed to hit off of Bardreau’s skate right in front of Lyon and wound up behind Alex in the net.

The next goal came over seven minutes later, but not much actually happened in between goals so let’s just jump to that moment. Brennan failed the clear the puck and Mason Marchment was able to get two chances right in the front of the net, burying the second of which.

This period, like the first, was pretty much all Marlies. The Phantoms forecheck was ineffective, they couldn’t break the puck out of the zone, and really didn’t have the puck much at all.

The teams’ took offsetting minors when Dmytro Timashov and Mark Friedman were each called for cross-checking. Playing at 4-on-4 was not a strength for the Phantoms all season long and that continued as the Marlies controlled most of the play.

The good (bad!) news was that we got to see even more of 4-on-4 hockey just minutes later! With five seconds left in the period there was a delayed penalty on Vorobyev for slashing when the Marlies got called for too many men on the ice. I’m still not sure if they someone wound up with a seventh skater on the ice or the extra attacker just touched the puck too quickly, but whichever it may be it meant that the Phantoms wouldn’t need to kill off Vorobyev’s minor.

Toronto scored the only two goals and outshot Lehigh Valley 11-6. The Phantoms were credited with 17 giveaways after two period. That’s 8 more giveaways than they had shots on goal. Not ideal.

3rd Period

This period can be summarized in one word; chaotic.

Lyon received a match penalty for kicking for this play:

This meant that Dustin Tokarski would enter the game and he would go on to allow two goals in the final ten minutes. Ben Smith scored twice in a span of just about a minute to put the Marlies up 5-0 with seven and half minutes remaining.

Frustration was clearly setting in for Lehigh Valley, and it let to Vorobyev getting 10-minute misconduct for “abuse of officials.” It happened after he was thrown out of a faceoff, so we can only assume he said something to the ref that he didn’t deem okay.

That, uh, wasn’t fun! Not a great game, nope. The Marlies won 5-0 and now have a 3-0 series lead. Game 4 is Friday night at 7 PM and the Phantoms will be looking to be just the fourth team in AHL history to execute the reverse sweep. They’re going to need more than 16 shots on goal per game to pull that off.