With just three games left in the regular season and long odds on reaching the playoffs, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms don’t appear to have given up just yet. After a slow, ugly start against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday, the Phantoms kicked it up a few notches and wound up with a 10-6 win, their second in as many days against the Penguins. The 10 goals were also a franchise record for the squad.
Some poor judgement on the part of the Phantoms led to the Pens getting two goals in the first 1:02 of the game. Greg Carey and Chris Conner scored within :44 of each other to tie the game. Less than three-minutes later, Conner faked a pass and instead fired a shot on goal that blasted into the back of the net. By the end of the first period, the Phantoms were up 4-2.
“That’s not really the way you draw up the start of a game,” said Corban Knight after the historic win. “We were able to regroup and bounce back and obviously, got some big saves from Alex and grinded it out after that. We knew to a man that we had to be better than that, so after that I think we just simplified things and got back to our game. Luckily, we were able to get some goals back and swing the momentum.”
Lehigh Valley made it five unanswered goals when Knight deflected a Greg Myers shot into the net and put the Phantoms up 5-2 before Wilkes-Barre/Scranton started to climb their way back into the game. The two teams traded goals before Nic Aube-Kubel fired home a shot off a picture perfect pass from Connor Bunnaman to make it 7-3. Just 2:33 into the final period, David Kase tipped a shot from James de Haas past goalie John Muse to tie the franchise record for goals in a game, which was set this past November.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton added three unanswered goals to cut the lead to 8-6, but the Phantoms still had some gas left in the tank and picked up two late goals. First Carsen Twarynski converted a penalty shot and Collin McDonald put the icing on the cake for a 10-6 final.
“It’s a little wild when you’re playing in a game that’s that high-scoring, but you can’t get caught up in that. You have to be sure that you focus on the details,” said Knight.
PLAYOFF PICTURE… You would have to be a true optimist to think that the Phantoms will be playing past their regular season finale on Sunday. They still trail Providence by six points and are still a point behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton even with their sweep of the two-game weekend series with the Pens. If Providence picks up one more point or if the Phantoms don’t win out, they’re eliminated with the Bruins taking the final Atlantic Division playoff spot. Charlotte, Bridgeport and Hershey have already secured playoff spots.
A RETURNING PHANTOM… With the Flyers season over, Corban Knight returned to the Phantoms for the final week of the season. Knight has played in just five games with Lehigh Valley this season, but has points in all five games and multiple points in three of the five games after adding a goal and an assist on Sunday. Knight was loaned to the Phantoms early on Sunday along with defenseman Mark Friedman.
A LYON GETS HIS RECOGNITION… Goalie Alex Lyon was recognized as the Phantoms IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year recipient for his work in the community. Lyon has participated in just about every community service opportunity that the team has held this season, including the Phantoms Fit Program and doing shopping for presents for underprivileged children in a Valley Youth House program. Lyon is now one of 31 finalists for the Yanick Dupre AHL Man of the Year Award.