By Tommy Hendricks, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms used a hat trick from Danick Martel and a strong 41-save performance from Anthony Stolarz to beat the Binghamton Senators by a final of 7-2 on Wednesday night.
Playing in their last home game before the All-Star break, the highest-scoring team in the AHL used another seven-goal performance to gain a victory, with their three All-stars picking up goals in the game.
The Phantoms got out to a strong start in the first, getting two goals from Martel to lead 2-0 after one. The game was evenly matched through the first 20 minutes, with the B-Sens only having a slight 14-12 shot advantage.
Martel gave Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead by banking a shot in off the back of Matt O'Connor at the 9:58 mark. He followed that up by batting his own rebound out of mid-air and into the net at the 13:59 mark of the first to give himself and his team two goals on the evening.
Martel's line kept clicking early in the second, with Nicolas Aube-Kubel taking a pass from Martel, who was camped below the goal line, at the near-side circle and wristing one home to make it 3-0 just 1:20 into the middle frame.
Jordan Weal added his 14th of the season a little over five minutes later, skating from behind the net and into the slot, getting a backhand shot off and past O'Connor and into the twine.
The Phantoms picked up a late power play at the end of the second after a behind the net scrum. The scrum saw both Patrick Sieloff and Boyd Gordon going to the box, but Sieloff picked up the extra two minutes with 45 seconds left in the period.
Lehigh Valley used that carry over time to extend their lead to 5-0, with T.J. Brennan wristing home his league-leading 8th goal by a defenseman on the power play just 1:14 into play.
Former Phantom Jason Akeson got called for tripping seven seconds later, giving the Phantoms back to back power plays.
Taylor Leier scored just a minute after Brennan's goal, giving the Phantoms a 6-0 lead just 2:14 into the final frame.
Lehigh Valley took consecutive penalties of their own, with Travis Sanheim going off for a hold at 4:54, and Reece Willcox going off for a slash less than two minutes apart.
Binghamton used their 5-on-3 time to break Stolarz's shutout, with Chad Nehring picking up the tally off a rebound from Stolarz pad. The Senators cut further into the lead five minutes later with Nick Paul beating Stolarz off the post above his glove-side shoulder to make it 6-2 at the 11:41 mark.
It would only take the Phantoms nine seconds to reestablish their five-goal lead, with Martel scoring his third goal of the night to bring the hats raining down on the PPL Center ice. Martel took a pass from Aube-Kubel and skated between the circles, getting a shot off that beat O'Connor on his blocker side to make it 7-2.
The score would make you think that, to this point, the game was a lopsided affair, but it was not. The B-Sens had outshot the Phantoms 43-27 with 3:40 left to play in the game, but Stolarz was the difference. The Phantoms had not played poorly either, they were just giving up a lot of shots against.
Lehigh Valley returns to action against the Senators in Binghamton on Friday night, before finishing off with a Saturday night matchup with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before their break.
Jordan Weal on his lines production: "We got the boys back together, Danick and Kubey on the wings. When those two are flying around, they're really flying. I just have to read off those two because they're creating so many turnovers on the forecheck and through the neutral zone. It's really nice when we're all on the same page."
Anthony Stolarz on his first game back from injury and how he played: "I just want to go out there and settle in, I wanna feel the puck a little bit. They kind of threw pucks at the net from everywhere. So for me, it was about making the first save, not let any rebounds get away from me. I feel like a play better when there's a lot of shots on me. Obviously as a goalie, you're gonna stay into it. A lot of shots, a lot of playing the puck will keep you into it, compares to a game where you go a couple minutes without a shot. Tonight, they had constant pressure, I think that was good for me."
Danick Martel on his hat trick: "I think I got a lot of chances in Hershey last game. I had a lot the game before too. I just have to put them in. Tonight I got lucky on the third one, the second one was a good effort, and I got lucky on the first one too shooting below the red line off the back of the goalie. I think I'm trying so hard that sometimes, the goals come like that in bunches. But I'll take that and build on it for next game."
3. Anthony Stolarz (LV) – 41 saves on 43 shots
2. Jordan Weal (LV) – Goal, 2 Assists, +4
1. Danick Martel (LV) – 3 Goals, Assist, +5