In a do-or-die situation, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms looked to extend their season and play a Game 5. Things did not go as planned. Alex Lyon got the nod in net yet again, and the only lineup change was Mike Vecchione out due to injury and Alex Krushelnyski returning to the lineup.
The good news is they had more shots on goal then they did in the first period of Game 3! The bad news is it was just one more, giving them four. Although maybe that wasn’t totally indicative of how the period went. The Phantoms weren’t that bad.
The first chance of the game came from the Marlies when they quickly found themselves in a 3-on-2 situation. Travis Sanheim was caught up the ice forcing Greg Carey to fall back on defense with Philippe Myers. Miro Aaltonen received the puck and had a wide open net to shoot at but thankfully he whiffed on the shot. Lyon had been pulled out of position by their quick passes so had Aaltonen made contact with the puck, it would have been 1-0 without a doubt.
Sanheim would stand out again in the period, this time positively. He was the lone defender back on a 2-on-1 and was able to pick off the pass and send the Phantoms on a 4-on-2 the other way.
About five minutes in, Chris Conner made a move around Marlies’ defenseman Calle Rosen in a 1-on-1 battle and got off a nice backhand shot towards Sparks. Sparks was however able to stop the shot and control the rebound.
The Phantoms did take the first penalty of the game when Phil Varone tripped up Chris Mueller immediately following a faceoff loss. The only scoring chance the Marlies were able to get out of it came right after the opening faceoff, and besides that chance, the Phantoms did a great job at forcing them into taking low danger shots.
You’d think that momentum would be on the Phantoms side following such a successful kill, but it was actually the Marlies that took over for the majority of the rest of the period.
Shots on goal in the period were 9-4 in favor of Toronto.
Just 58 seconds in the Phantoms were called for having too many men on the ice. Not an ideal start to a period, nope. It got even worse when Reece Willcox was called for slashing about a minute into the kill, giving the Marlies a two-man advantage.
Toronto wasted no time on the 5-on-3 with Andreas Johnsson scoring his first of two goals tonight just seven seconds in. The Phantoms were able to successfully kill off what was left of the 5-on-4 power play and eventually get their first shot on goal of the period at the 15:23 mark.
For the next five minutes straight it was all Marlies and all Lyon. He had to make two huge blocker saves, one of which was a 2-on-1 opportunity by Mueller, the other being a slap shot by Vincent Loverde from the slot.
He then went on to make the save of the game.
The Phantoms finally began to carry play a bit, sustaining some offensive pressure at around the halfway point of the period. It was the line of Oskar Lindblom, Corban Knight, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel that had the Marlies hemmed in their own end for a bit; something the Phantoms failed to do for the majority of the game.
Danick Martel drew the first penalty on Toronto, a slashing call on Pierre Engvall, and sent the Phantoms to their first power play of the game. Thanks to a brilliant pass by Colin McDonald, Sanheim was able to convert.
Travis Sanheim ties the game up at 1! pic.twitter.com/BPXQEcaqN9— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 26, 2018
Varone was taken down by Justin Holl three minutes later, meaning that Lehigh Valley would once again have a power play opportunity. This one, however, wouldn’t go their way as the best scoring chance came off the stick of a Marlies’ skater and had to be stopped by Lyon.
Lehigh Valley was lucky to leave the period tied as the following play could’ve easily given Toronto the lead with just seconds left in the period.
Grundstrom had a wide open net following this passing play but he hit Lyon with the puck.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 26, 2018
Phantoms caught a break here. pic.twitter.com/YsSRaDael0
The shots on goal in the second period were 9-9, and the Marlies had an 18-13 edge overall.
It took Toronto just 3:27 to take the lead and it was once again Johnsson who found a way to beat Lyon. It really wasn’t the best goal to give up and one that I’m sure Alex would love to have back.
The Marlies continued to throw pucks towards Lyon and it took the Phantoms over eight minutes to get their first shot on goal of the period. They did have a bit of a push then, with shots taken from both Sanheim and Carey, but they weren’t the highest quality of shots.
Their best chance of the period came from Varone when he entered the zone with possession, found himself in the slot, and took a slap shot that Sparks was able to stop.
With seven and a half minutes left Myers was called for a holding penalty and let’s just say he didn’t agree with the call. He was visibly heated, and I would be too given the situation they were in.
They were able to kill off Myers’ penalty pretty successfully, with Mueller having the lone chance – a one-time shot that he missed high. At this point the Phantoms had five minutes to score a goal and extend their season and, as we all know, that didn’t happen.
When the Marlies iced the puck with 2:33 remaining, Scott Gordon decided to pull Lyon for an extra attacker. Following a couple of decent looks at the net, Trevor Moore put the final nail in the coffin when he scored on the empty net with just 41 seconds left in the game.
The game ended 3-1 as the Marlies swept the Phantoms, ending their season. It was Lehigh Valley’s best season in a long time and they have a ton to be proud of, the Marlies were just the better team.
Final shots on goal were 29 for Toronto, and 20 for Lehigh Valley.