Frustration continues as Hartford hands Phantoms 5th straight loss


Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

When you outshoot an opponent, 27-1, in the third period of a one-goal game and still lose, it's hard to imagine things getting much worse. But on Saturday night, an already long stretch of frustration continued for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Adam Tambellini's goal at 1:51 of the third period proved to be the difference as the Phantoms fell for the fifth straight game, losing to the Hartford Wolf Pack, 2-1, in front of a record crowd of 9,046 at PPL Center.

In a relatively uneventful first period, the highlight was a fight between Sam Morin and Kodie Curran. With about three minutes left in the period, Curran laid a body check in the corner on the 6'7" Flyers prospect. Morin took offense to it and proceeded to rain blows upon him. The decision easily went to Morin. Shots in the period favored Hartford, 11-6.

In the second, things opened up and both teams traded chances. About four minutes in, Kevin Goumas had a wide open chance from the point, but he blasted a slapper wide of Magnus Hellberg.

The Phantoms finally got some puck luck at 9:46. A Sam Gagner pass deflected off of Travis Oleksuk in the slot and found Chris Conner who was driving to the far post. Conner finished the chance, beating Hellberg to give the Phantoms the lead. The goal was Conner's seventh of the season and second in two games. Andrew MacDonald got the secondary assist.

Unfortunately, the lead was short lived. Hartford tied it less than five minutes later when a Chris McCarthy shot at the half wall bounced off of the Phantoms Maxime Lamarche and right to the Wolf Pack's Mat Bodie, who stuffed it five-hole on Anthony Stolarz. Shots in the frame favored Lehigh Valley, 12-9.

Early in the third, Hartford would reclaim the lead on the power play. With Morin off for boarding, Ryan Graves fired a high shot off the mask of Stolarz. The rebound bounced out to Tambellini who beat Stolarz to give the Wolf Pack a 2-1 advantage.

The Phantoms took nine shots in the third and had a couple of close chances in the crease, but Hellberg was up to the task on all of them, sealing a 2-1 victory for the Wolf Pack. It was the Phantoms fifth straight loss.


  • Sam Gagner on his recent play – "I feel my game is getting better and better. It's obviously frustrating. While I'm down here, the main thing is to try and help this team win games."
  • Gagner on the losing streak – "I think we're outplaying teams, we're out-chancing teams. I don't know if we're making goalies look good, but we've got to find a way to put pucks in the net. I feel like we're doing a good job of getting some traffic. We've just got to find ways to miss the goalie a little more and bear down on our chances."
  • Anthony Stolarz on the losing streak – "It's obviously frustrating especially with the way we've been playing the last couple games. The last game against Hershey, you throw 27 pucks at the net in the third period and only able to squeak one in. Tonight, we just ran into a hot goalie and, give him credit, he stood on his head and made the saves when he needed to."
  • Stolarz on having to stop many high shots from Hartford – "They were headhunting for sure. When they've got guys who can come across the blue line and rip pucks, why not? As a goalie, it's tough to control and you're not going to really be able to catch it or get it and trap it to your body, you just have to use your head. I did have to do that a couple of times tonight. Obviously when it hits your head and goes straight up, you can't find it right away. For me, it's an in-between play and you just have to do your best to find the puck."
  • Head coach Scott Gordon on the main reason for the losing streak – "The bottom line is that we just can't score. It's not from a lack of effort. It's not from a lack of generating chances. You know it's pretty bad when the goalie has a puck roll down his back while he's pretty much against the crossbar and lands on the goal line and doesn't go in. I don't think that could happen without it going in ever. But it did and that's just the way it is. We've got some grade A chances that we can't score on and they take a shot on their power play that hit Stolie square in the mask and goes right to their guy and basically he has an empty net. Pretty good bounce and we're just not getting the bounces and we're doing plenty to deserve the bounces but it's just not happening right now."
  • Gordon on Sam Gagner – "He makes some exceptional plays, plays I didn't even know he was capable of. Every game you can see he's got great vision, he knows how to move the puck to different spots to change the angle of the pass. He's got a real knack for finding the open guy."

Brent Baldwin is Lehigh Valley Phantoms beat writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @BBFlyerdelphia.