McDonald hat trick lifts Phantoms over Senators



On Wednesday night, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tried to accomplish something they hadn't all season: complete a three-game winning streak. 

Behind a five-point game from Colin McDonald, who had a hat trick and two assists, and two goals from All-Star Nick Cousins, the Phantoms downed the Binghamton Senators, 6-3, on Wednesday night at PPL Center.

For the 22nd time this season, Lehigh Valley got on the board first when McDonald redirected a Cousins centering pass in the slot through the legs of Senators' netminder Matt O'Connor at 7:30. The power-play goal was McDonald's fifth of the season.

The lead was short lived though, as Ryan Dzingle tied the game less than four minutes later. Dzingle took a pass from Chris Carlisle and scored five-hole on All-Star Anthony Stolarz. 

Things got testy later in the period as Binghamton's Cole Schneider gave Joe Rehkamp a flying elbow. Rehkamp retaliated and got a roughing minor, while Schneider was given a five-minute major for elbowing.

The Phantoms were unable to capitalize on the three-minute power play and the teams went to the locker room tied at a goal apiece after the first. Shots in the period were 11-9 in favor of the Phantoms.

In the second, the teams played an even period with chances on both sides, but it was Binghamton that got the lead with just over four minutes left in the period. Eric O'Dell stashed home the rebound of a Mike Kostka slap shot at 14:40. The goal was O'Dell's 15th of the season.

It was another case of a team not being able to keep a lead, as Danick Martel found McDonald in the slot 2:51 later for the equalizer. 

In the third, The scoring got heavy. O'Dell potted his second of the game much in the same way he scored the first, when he buried a rebound of a Kostka shot at 5:11 on the power play. 

That was when Lehigh Valley reeled off four straight to capture the victory.

First, Cole Bardreau used a bullish drive to the net to collect his second goal in the last three games at 7:48. Just over three minutes later, the Phantoms got a lead they would not relinquish when Cousins rifled home a bomb from the near point. Cousins struck again when Chris Conner found him at the side of the net for a slam dunk past O'Connor at 14:43. McDonald rounded out the scoring, and completed the hat trick with an empty netter at 19:32.

In somewhat of an oddity, nobody threw hats on the ice after the goal, but more on that later.

Notes: McDonald's five points were the first by a Phantom since Erik Gustafsson had five in a game against the Rochester Americans on April 4, 2011. Stolarz made 30 saves in earning his 14th win of the season.

Quotes: McDonald, on the lack of hats after the third goal: "I wasn't sure what was going on, I don't know. We kind of laughed it off and I know it's cliche but it was just a really big win for us and that's all we really were concerned about."

Cole Bardreau, on somewhat exercising the demons that have cursed them against Binghamton: "A team that you play that much, you get a little more hyped up and like you said they have been taking more points from us than we like to see so we just want to keep the momentum going."

Head coach Scott Gordon on the win streak: "Especially with how tight it is with the teams in front of us, it's important that we get some kind of streak going here. Just about every team in our division has had one except for us. Now is the time. We need it now. To be down 3-2 and be able to come up with four goals in the third is huge."

3 Stars: 3) LV-Cole Bardreau (Goal, Assist) 2) LV-Nick Cousins (2 Goals, Assist) 1) LV-Colin McDonald (3 Goals, 5 Points)

Up Next: The Phantoms will look to head to the All-Star break on a winning note, when they host the first half of a home-and-home with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night at 7:05. 

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

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