Phantoms 4, Bruins 1: Lehigh Valley takes a 2-1 series lead

A successful night for Oskar Lindblom and Travis Sanheim in their returns to the AHL.

In what was a pivotal Game 3, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms switched goaltenders and went with Dustin Tokarski instead of Alex Lyon in net tonight. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to see Tokarski get into this series, since he had two shutouts against the Providence Bruins in the final month of the season. The Phantoms’ win gives them a 2-1 series lead and puts the Bruins into a win or go home situation tomorrow night.

1st period

It was a terrific start for the Phantoms, and early on Nicolas Aube-Kubel wheeled behind the net and found Corban Knight wide open in the slot for the game’s first high danger scoring chance, but Jordan Binnington was able to make the save.

It took the Bruins over five minutes to get their first shot on goal, coming off the rush and off of the stick of Peter Cehlarik. It was a relatively easy save for Tokarski to make and a good way to get him into the game. Shortly after that, Philippe Myers put the Phantoms on the board! Danick Martel found Mike Vecchione who found Myers for the goal. That gives Martel his fifth point of the series.

The rough stuff started early tonight when Cole Bardreau was driven into the net, and a scrum ensued. Along with Bardreau, Tyrell Goulbourne, Jordan Szwarz, and Paul Postma got involved. Somehow Goulbourne was the only played called for a penalty. It wasn’t all bad though, because Oskar Lindblom, in his first game since returning from Philadelphia, scored a shorthanded goal to put the Phantoms up 2-0. The penalty kill as a whole was quite successful, limiting the Bruins to very few chances.

Travis Sanheim made his presence known with a great scoring chance off the rush that was, in the end, unsuccessful only because of a great save by Binnington. Sanheim’s speed was evident all night.

After generating a pretty good scoring chance, Goulbourne drew a tripping penalty on Jeremy Lauzon. This would send the Phantoms to their first power play of the game, and, while they failed to convert, they threw plenty of shots at the net.

With just 30 seconds remaining in the period Goulbourne got a breakaway opportunity and Binnington had to come up huge to keep it just a 2-goal game.

At the end of the first period the Phantoms were up 2-0 and led the shots on goal count 19-6. Hat tip to Maddie, who’ll have some observations on this game tomorrow, for this stat: the Phantoms took 15 high danger shot attempts in the first period across all situations. Pretty good!

2nd period

The Phantoms were put on their second power play of the game just 49 seconds into the period when T.J. Brennan was tripped up by Ryan Fitzgerald. On that power play, we got some Philadelphia Flyers magic.

That’s right, it was Sanheim who found Lindblom for his second goal of the game, this one coming on the power play. Guess you could say the NHL reinforcements were on their game tonight! A duo that played well just about all night long was Bardreau and Goulbourne, especially in the second period. Binnington had to stop the duo twice on almost back to back rush chances.

Six minutes into the period the Bruins got their eight shot on goal. Yes, it took them 24 minutes to take 8 shots on goal. A tremendous start for the Phantoms. With just over twelve minutes remaining in the period, Aube-Kubel put on a bit of a show. Wheeling around the offensive zone and eventually finding Sanheim for a point shot that almost went in the net off of a body in front.

At the 8:51 mark, Tokarski faced his first real test. He made a fantastic glove save off a rush chance by Providence and was able to control the rebound and get a whistle.

In the first of many scrums to come, Brennan and Adam Payerl got into it. They both got two minute minors for roughing, but Brennan got an extra two minutes. So the Phantoms headed back to the penalty kill. Just the second shot on goal on the Bruins’ power play found its way into the net. Austin Czarnik took the original shot and it deflected off something in front, possible Reece Willcox. Czarnik’s goal cut the Phantoms lead to 3-1.

Phil Varone was slow to get up after a collision and he slowly made his way to the bench. I’m no doctor and you don’t want to speculate injuries, but the impact on his right shoulder didn’t look great. He would return to the game for a few shifts but later leave the bench and not return. The Phantoms were then called for one of their two too many men on the ice calls and the Bruins went to work. Czarnik had the best opportunity, when a shot-pass went through Tokarski’s five hole but the puck went right through the blue paint and missed the net.

At the end of the period the shots on goal were 11-9 Bruins in the second, and 29-17 Phantoms overall.

3rd period

I’m going to keep this part of the recap short and simple. Things got nasty.

With 12:41 left, the Phantoms were called for too many men for the second time of the game, something that certainly has got to stop happening, and following another successful penalty kill, chaos began to ensue.

Instead of trying to describe the whole thing, here are some gifs so that you can watch it go down yourself.

Wild stuff. Somehow only Martel and Peter Cehlarik got penalties out of that scrum, each getting 4-minute double minors for roughing. Just 20 seconds later Brennan and Anton Blidh got into it and were both given minors for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Besides the nastiness, the only two notable events in the third period were a Vecchione goal, and this pretty incredible save by Tokarski.

The three stars of the game were Dustin Tokarski (32 saves on 33 shots), Philippe Myers, and Oskar Lindblom who scored two goals in his return to the AHL. Final shots on goal were 34-33 in favor of Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms will be back at it tomorrow, April 28th, at 7:05 with a chance to finish the series and move on to round 2.