Phantoms late rally falls short in loss to Utica


Photo: Nina Weiss/Flyerdelphia

It was the same old song and dance on Saturday night for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. For the last three games, the team has staged a late game rally to earn at least a point.

Tonight, it wasn't enough. 

Jordan Subban's third-period goal pushed the Utica Comets to a 2-1 victory Saturday night at PPL Center.

Although there was no scoring in the first period, the Comets dominated play, outshooting Lehigh Valley, 12-3. The only thing that kept the game scoreless was the stellar play in net of Anthony Stolarz. Colin McDonald came closest to giving the Phantoms a lead when he hit the post from the slot. At the end of the frame, McDonald was whistled for a cross check.

In the second, Ronalds Kenins took a penalty that would ultimately give the Comets the lead. As Kenins was exiting the penalty box, he sprang Alexandre Grenier on a 3-on-1 that he put home. It was Grenier's ninth of the season at 2:28. Shots in the period favored Utica, 11-8.

The Phantoms again started to tighten up in the third and it tied the game at one at the 7:27 mark. Phil DeSimone took a pass in the slot from Chris Conner in the right corner and one-timed it past Comets netminder Joe Cannata. Robert Hagg netted the secondary assist.

Shortly after the Phantoms failed on their only power play of the game, Subban's point blast became what ultimately proved to be the game winner.

Notes: Goalie Martin Ouellette was recalled from ECHL Reading earlier in the afternoon. Jason LaBarbera had already been dealing with a nagging injury, and Friday night versus Hartford, he was hit on the hand by a puck while sitting on the bench. As a result, Stolarz made his sixth consecutive start. With his assist on DeSimone's goal, Conner extended his point streak to eight straight games.

Standings Watch: By virtue of Bridgeport's 3-1 win over Providence and Lehigh Valley's loss in regulation, the Phantoms now trail by eight points for the final playoff spot.

3 Stars: 3) UTI-Joe Cannata (21 Saves, Win) 2) LV-Anthony Stolarz (40 Saves) 1) UTI-Jordan Subban (Game Winning Goal)

Up Next: Lehigh Valley travels to the XL Center in the capital city of Connecticut for a rematch of Friday's game with the Hartford Wolf Pack at 5:00 p.m.

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

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