MacDonald’s marker not enough, Binghamton wins in shootout


Photo: Nina Weiss/Flyerdelphia

After Friday's loss to Bridgeport, Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said the team needed to get more shots on net. The Phantoms unleashed 39 shots on the Binghamton Senators tandem of Matt O'Connor and Chris Driedger. 

The problem? They stopped 38.

Andrew MacDonald scored the lone Lehigh Valley tally, and Matthew Puempel netted Binghamton's regulation goal and the winner in the shootout, as the Phantoms fell 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Gordon's message was received early, as the Phantoms had a total of 17 shots in the opening frame. At 10:39, the Phantoms got on the board. With Binghamton's Eric O'Dell in the box for hooking, MacDonald one-timed a slap shot from the center point off a feed from Nick Cousins. The puck deflected off the leg of Colin Greening and through the legs of O'Connor. Petr Straka also picked up an assist.

It was a goaltending show in the second, as both O'Connor and Anthony Stolarz made several 10-bell saves apiece. O'Connor had one particularly ridiculous sequence, where he robbed  Straka twice within five seconds with his glove. All the Phantoms forward could do was stare at the sky.

Driedger replaced O'Connor with 2:47 left in the period when the starter left with an apparent injury.

It did not take long into the third for the Senators' to tie it. Puempel chopped a Mike Kostka point shot off the ice and it bounced over Stolarz' glove and into the net. Binghamton pushed hard to get the game-winner in regulation, but Stolarz stood tall as the home team collected a 14-9 advantage in shots in the third period.

Lehigh Valley had a golden opportunity to win the game in overtime. Former Adirondack Phantom Kyle Flanagan served a Senators' bench minor for too-many men, but the visitors couldn't convert on the 4-on-3 power play.

In the shootout, Driedger stopped Taylor Leier, in addition to Straka and Cousins. Stolarz, meanwhile, was able to stop Cole Schneider and Tobias Lindberg. When Puempel came up, he beat Stolarz top shelf to the glove hand to secure the extra point.

Notes: D Matt Lashoff returned to the lineup after missing four games due to injury, likewise for LW Danick Martel, who missed 3 games. It was Lehigh Valley's first loss in the skills contest since December 6, 2014, against Bridgeport.

3 Stars: 3) BNG-Matt Puempel (Goal, Shootout game-winner) 2) LV-Anthony Stolarz (39 saves) 1) BNG-Chris Driedger (Win, 12 saves in relief)

Up Next: Lehigh Valley heads to Chocolate Town for a 5 p.m. New Year's Eve tilt with the Hershey Bears.

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

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