(Tommy Hendricks/Sports Talk Philly)
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were up to their old tricks again on Friday night, coming from behind a three-goal deficit to beat the Providence Bruins, 5-4, in overtime.
The Phantoms got dominated for the first two periods of the game, but used a three-goal third to help them clinch the second seed in the Atlantic Division and home ice for the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Lehigh Valley came out guns blazing in the first, scoring just 31 seconds into the game. Taylor Leier made a play to get the puck out of a scrum along the nearside wall and got it to the point to Maxim Lamarche. Lamarche took a shot through traffic that was deflected by Scott Laughton to get the game's first goal.
It all went downhill from there for the Phantoms however, giving up three straight goals to the Bruins with two coming on the power play. Peter Mueller scored the first power-play goal, flying down the wing and snapping a shot past Alex Lyon to tie the game. Jake DeBrusk added another man-advantage marker just a minute and a half later, putting home a big rebound off the pad of Lyon.
The entire opening 20 minutes saw both teams accumulate 16 penalty minutes, and both get power plays and 4-on-4 chances. Providence's second ranked penalty kill shut the Phantoms power play down, but their dominance of the specialty teams continued. While at 4-on-4, Wayne Simpson found space to pop the puck through Lyon five-hole to put the Bruins up by two. Providence, while adding that extra marker, dominated all aspects of the opening 20 minutes, leaving 40 for the Phantoms to try to get back into this possible playoff preview.
They fared no better in the second, giving up a goal just 1:18 in. While DeBrusk drove the slot, he got tripped up and fell to the ice. Miraculously, he still got a pass off, a no-look one at that. That pass found Chris Porter at the backdoor of Lyon's net for an easy tap in goal to make it 4-1 Providence.
The game's intensity picked up from there, with scrums after seemingly every whistle. Lehigh Valley headed into the third looking to erase a 3 goal deficit.
That ended Lyon's night, as he was pulled for the third straight time when facing Providence, allowing four goals on 14 shots.
Lehigh Valley cut the lead in half just under halfway through the third. Travis Sanheim ripped a shot from the point that Zane McIntyre stopped. However, McIntyre left a huge rebound in the slot. Laughton had a wave over it, before the puck was ultimately put home by Colin McDonald to make it 4-2.
The Phantoms got another great opportunity just minutes later, as Chris Conner got hauled down on a breakaway. Conner was awarded a penalty shot, giving him a chance to go one-on-one with McIntyre. Conner deked out the Bruins netminder, and put the puck through his five-hole. The backhanded shot ended up going just wide of the post and the game remained 4-2.
The Phantoms got awarded a late power-play chance, and elected to pull Martin Ouellette to make it a 6-on-4 to try to get back within a goal. Time was was slipping from their grasp, as the penalty expired and Providence iced the puck with 1:23 left to play. Off the faceoff, T.J. Brennan played catch with Andy Miele at the point to the near-side dot. Brennan stepped toward the middle of the ice, finding Greg Carey with a tape-to-tape pass. Carey wasted little time to bury it to make it a one-goal game with 1:02 to play.
The Phantoms took a timeout to try to draw up a play, and for the first time this season, it worked. Miele took a pass along the near-side wall, corralled it, and sent a laser toward the net that beat McIntyre and sent the PPL Center into a frenzy. In a game where the Phantoms got completely dominated for the first 30 minutes, they battled back to force overtime.
Overtime ended rather quickly as well, as the Phantoms completed their comeback effort. Just 48 seconds into the extra session, Brennan went cross-ice to Conner. Conner immediately hit Corban Knight at the backdoor with a pass and he tipped it home to give Lehigh Valley the win.
With the two points, the Phantoms clinched second place in the Atlantic Division, and home ice for the first round of the playoffs. Lehigh Valley finishes off their regular season with a game of the road in Binghamton against the Senators. They still are waiting to find out who their first round opponent will be.
1. Corban Knight (LV) - Goal, +1
2. Andy Miele (LV) - Goal, Assist, +2
3. Martin Ouellette (LV) - 18 saves on 18 shots