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Checkers 6, Phantoms 0: Charlotte ties the series up 1-1

I don’t think zero goals is enough to win a game.

Gregory Vasil/Getty Images

The bad news going into Game 2 was the absence of Travis Sanheim, as expected, but on the positive side of things tonight also marked the return of defenseman Samuel Morin. Morin, who hadn’t played since January 20th, played most of the game alongside Max Lamarche. This pair had played together earlier in the season, when Morin was healthy. The only other change in the Phantoms’ lineup was Radel Fazleev leaving the lineup and Tyrell Goulbourne entering. Dustin Tokarski got the start in net tonight.

1st Period

Following the very first shift of the game Colin McDonald and Cole Bardreau skated over towards Valentin Zykov, the villain in the Sanheim saga. This would set the tone for the rest of the game. Just 4:26 into the game, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was given an interference minor for this hit on Josiah Didier:

It certainly seems possible that Aube-Kubel will be receiving his third suspension of the season.

Barely over a minute into Aube-Kubel’s penalty, Lamarche and Trevor Carrick were given offsetting minors, and just 35 seconds later. Charlotte got on the board. Andrew Miller found Janne Kuokkanen open in the slot and Kuokkanen was able to redirect the puck past Tokarski.

As expected, the rough stuff continued. Clark Bishop jumped Aube-Kubel in the corner, and then during the TV timeout got into it with T.J. Brennan. Bishop got two minutes for boarding Aube-Kubel, and both he and Brennan received roughing minors.

The game calmed down for a bit after that, and there was actually a rare stretch of 5-on-5 hockey. That would not last too long, of course, as goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Bardreau would get called for offsetting minors with just over five minutes remaining in the period. Nedeljkovic had hit Bardreau twice, first with his stick, and then with his blocked, and Bardreau crosschecked Brendan Kichton immediately after. This would send the game to 4-on-4, a problem area for Lehigh Valley all season.

When Oskar Lindblom attempted to make a cross ice pass it was intercepted by Charlotte, leading to a 2-on-0 rush from Miller and Lucas Wallmark, resulting in a goal. It goes without saying that Tokarski had almost no chance to make a save.

The one (only?) positive to come out of the period was that the Phantoms seemed to carry the play for the final two minutes, something that they would carry into the second period.

Charlotte scored the only two goals and Lehigh Valley had the edge in shots on goal 10-9.

2nd Period

It only took 52 seconds for another penalty to be called, this time it was Bardreau getting crosschecked by Philip Samuelsson in the corner. Close to a minute and a half in, they drew another! This time it was Lindblom, who was tripped by Haydn Fleury. On the 5-on-3 Greg Carey took a one-timer from the right boards that hit Nedljkovic right in the mask and cause him to shake it off. Carey would again get a good scoring opportunity, this one coming from the middle of the slot, but his shot went wide to the right. After Samuelsson’s minor expired, the Phantoms couldn’t get much of anything going on the 5-on-4. I believe they had no shots on goal and just two attempts at the net. However, Lehigh Valley would once again go to the power play, this time because Mark Friedman was drilled into the Checkers’ bench and Kuokkanen took the opportunity to take an extra shot at him, leading to his roughing penalty. The bad news is that the power play was just as bad and Charlotte easily killed the penalty off.

Following a Mike Vecchione wrap-around attempt, he and Trevor Carrick got into a shoving match along with Aube-Kubel and Zykov. Carrick and Vecchione got the only two penalties, sending this game back to 4-on-4. Surprisingly, the Phantoms actually had the better of the chances this time! The best being a rush chance by Myers that just barely missed the right post.

Not even 30 seconds after the game was back to 5-on-5, the Checkers scored. Roland McKeown’s slap pass was right on the tape to Samuelsson, who made no mistake in directing it past Tokarski. It was just their second shot on goal of the period.

There was a bit of a scrum behind Tokarski’s net which lead to Bishop taking Bardreau down, sending the Phantoms to yet another power play. Like a lot of their previous opportunities, the Phantoms couldn’t get much going.

With 2:54 left, Tokarski stopped a rush shot off the stick of Kichton. It was a 2-on-1 odd man situation that Reece Willcox played pretty well, forcing Kichton to take the shot rather than make a pass. Bardreau then took his second penalty of the game, and Zykov scored, putting Charlotte up 4-0. Andrew Poturalski made a fantastic pass from the left boards to Zykov who tipped it in right in front of Tokarski

With one second left in the period, Bardreau and Warren Foegle each picked up 10-minute misconducts for something that wasn’t shown on AHL Live.

At the end of the period the Checkers, again, scored the only two goals. The Phantoms did outshoot them 10-4 in the period, and 20-13 overall at this point of the game.

3rd Period

The Checkers had a much better start to the period than the Phantoms, and that would continue for the rest of the game. Mikhail Vorobyev and Aleksi Saarela get matching roughing minors for a scrum around the Checkers’ bench, but Vorobyev did pick up an extra minor for cross-checking. Myers took a holding penalty, they killed it, McKeown interferes with Brennan, and the Checkers killed it. It was just more of the same at this point and I can only describe so many penalties before it’s agonizing to both write and read.

Lamarche did have two high danger scoring chances during that power play, but he was unable to cash in on either.

A bit later it would be Mark Friedman’s turn to take a penalty, this one being a boarding call. It was the 24th penalty of the game between the two teams, and just 19 seconds later Morin took a run at Zykov and received a charging minor, bringing that number up to 25. Exciting stuff here, I know.

The Phantoms did do a pretty good job at killing off the 5-on-3, and the 19 seconds of the 5-on-4 but, we all know where this is going, right? If you guessed another penalty, you are correct. Danick Martel shoved Hayden Fleury into a goal post and got called for cross-checking. He very obiosuly did not agree with the call, and picked up an extra two minute unsportsmanlike conduct minor, along with a 10-minute misconduct, for “disputing a decision.”

Just like that Charlotte score two more times, making it 6-0, and capping off the Phantoms’ ugliest game of the playoff thus far.

For making it to this point of this recap, you deserve to read something positive, so here you go: Vorobyev was really good tonight and maybe the Phantoms’ best player.

Game 3 is Tuesday, May 8th, at 7:00 PM. It will be the first game of the series played in Charlotte.