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Phantoms vs. Penguins preview: Lehigh Valley enters game short on key defensemen

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In the teams second of 12 meetings this season, the Phantoms will battle the Penguins without three key defensemen. Thanks, recalls.

Pat Jacoby

After going 2-1 in their three-game weekend slate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4-2-0) return to Allentown today to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (4-4-0) in the second matchup between the two teams on the season.

The Phantoms and Penguins are tied for second in the East Division with eight points each, trailing Hershey by two points. Tonight’s winner will move into a tie with the Bears for first place in the East.

This morning the Flyers recalled defenseman Brandon Manning to give the team an extra defenseman for its upcoming trip to Florida. With Gostisbehere and Manning with Philadelphia, the Phantoms two top pairing defensemen are unavailable. Mark Alt, who has had a few stellar defensive performances for the Phantoms in their first five games, will be out for "a few weeks" with a shoulder injury he sustained versus Binghamton.

With roster spots open, the Phantoms called up Maxim Lamarche from the Reading Royals. Lamarche will wear No. 44 tonight against the Penguins.

Last time in Wilkes-Barre:
  • The Phantoms beat the Penguins 5-2 in Wilkes-Barre’s home opener. The victory is Lehigh Valley's largest margin of victory. Chris VandeVelde, who netted his first Flyers goal last night in their overtime victory over the Kings, scored two in that contest. Brandon Alderson, Alt and Nick Cousins also scored for the Phantoms in the win.
  • VandeVelde scored on two of his three shots. His only shot not to meet the back of the net was a rebound, which he poked past Jeff Zatkoff for his first goal of the game.
  • The Pens racked up 58 penalty minutes, including three game misconducts versus the Phantoms. Wilkes-Barre leads the league in penalty minutes with 244.
Last weekend:
  • Lehigh Valley is rebounding off a shutout loss to Hershey on Sunday, after an overtime victory in Binghamton on Saturday and a late come-from-behind offensive explosion in Allentown Friday against Hershey.
  • The Phantoms and Bears traded for first place in the division twice last weekend.
    Hershey sits in the premier position in the East, Phantoms in second.
  • Scott Laughton netted his fifth goal of the season in overtime, handing the Phantoms a 5-4 victory over the Binghamton Senators. Laughton is now third in the league in scoring with five goals, and has earned at least a point in each contest this season with seven.
  • Nick Cousins bests Phantoms rookies in points, however, coming in fourth in the AHL in total scoring with eight points.
  • The Phantoms are 2-0 in overtime this season.
  • With a 29.6 power play percentage, the Phantoms have the second-best power play in the AHL, scoring in eight of their 27 man-advantage opportunities. The Phantoms are 4-0 when registering a power play goal.