Phantoms playoff hopes in danger following shutout loss to Penguins


Anthony Stolarz started his ninth straight game for Lehigh Valley tonight. (Photo credit: Nina Weiss/The Home News)

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-27-2-3) were shutout by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the third time this season tonight in a 3-0 loss that puts the Phantoms’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

The loss, combined with a miraculous come-from-behind win by Bridgeport, pushes Lehigh Valley to seven points behind the final playoff spot with 17 games remaining on their regular season schedule.

The Phantoms ran into another hot goaltender in Tristan Jarry, who stopped all 36 shots that came his way for the Penguins in the win, while Dominik Simon (two goals) and Dustin Jeffrey (two assists) lead the Penguins’ attack.

A late second-period goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea with 15.7 seconds left turned out to be a back breaking goal for the Phantoms, who entered the third period trailing 2-0. The Penguins extended their lead to 3-0 just 1:28 into the final frame to put the icing on the proverbial cake.

Despite trailing 1-0 after the first frame, Lehigh Valley actually controlled the play in most of the opening 20 minutes, at one point outshooting the Penguins 10-4 midway through the opening frame.

An unfortunate bounce behind Anthony Stolarz’s net with less than five minutes to play before the first intermission saw the Phantoms goalie mishandle a puck right to Dustin Jeffrey, who from the corner quickly fed it to Dominik Simon in front for a quick shot and goal to put the Penguins ahead 1-0.

The two teams played an even second period, exchanging chances back and forth only to see some good stops by both goaltenders. The Phantoms appeared to be gaining momentum late in the period, but were denied on three great back-to-back scoring chances before surrendering a back-breaking goal with 15.7 seconds left before the second intermission.

A missed assignment on a back check allowed the Penguins to enter the Phantoms’ defensive zone on a 3-on-2 rush that saw Ty Loney pass to Tom Sestito who quickly fed it to Dea for a quick snipe to the top shelf to send the Pens to the third period up 2-0.

Simon picked up his second goal of the night, and 17th of the season, early in the third and the Penguins held onto the 3-0 lead in route to the win over Lehigh Valley.


Head Coach Scott Gordon: "The first period to me was all us. They had that bounce that his the linesmen's skate on the first goal that's realistically is a breakout for us. Other than that, it was a great first period. Second period we didn't have any puck luck at all. The goalie made some great saves, some of it a little lucky on his side, but when he wasn't lucky he was really good."

Defenseman Christian Marti: "We had some great scoring opportunities, but the puck didn't want to go in – it felt like one of those nights. We can't cry about it, we have to go to Binghamton [tomorrow] and play as hard as we can."


Defenseman Mark Alt left the game with an apparent injury late in the second period and did not return. Head coach Scott Gordon did not have an update on his condition after the game.

The Phantoms announced their 7th straight sellout at home with an attendance of 8,715 fans. It is their 18th sellout of the season.

Up Next

The Phantoms (27-27-2-3) head to Binghamton (21-31-3-1) Saturday to take on the BSens at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) is the Lehigh Valley Phantoms beat writer for The Home News.

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