Total Team Effort Guides Lehigh Valley Past St. John’s


Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

20 minutes here, 40 minutes there. That was the story of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' season to this point.

Not anymore.

Nick Cousins had two goals, Shayne Gostisbehere notched his first professional goal, and Anthony Stolarz made 17 saves to lead the Phantoms to a 5-1 thrashing of the St. John's IceCaps Wednesday night at PPL Center. 

The Phantoms controlled play early, peppering IceCaps netminder Dustin Tokarski early, but he stone-walled them at every turn and, with a little help from his red metal friend 60 seconds in. Petr Straka hit the post off the rebound of a Tokarski save.

The IceCaps struck first on the power play at 13:59, and it was as close as they would ever get to finding the net. With the Phantoms Andrew MacDonald off for tripping, Sven Andrighetto took a cross-ice feed from Mark Barberio and buried a one-timer past Stolarz. 

The lead didn't even last one minute. Gostisbehere found Cousins with a nifty pass through a defender's legs at the edge of the crease and he easily tapped it into the open net.

Lehigh Valley busted the game wide open in the second.

Cousins collected his second of the game and third of the season at 3:51. After taking a pass at the point, he pinched to the top of the circle, waited out a sliding defender, and wristed the puck past Tokarski. Although initially announced as unassisted, the lone assist was later credited to Mark Alt.

Recent injury reinforcement Kevin Goumas got his first of the season just 7:07 later. On an two-on-one with Taylor Leier, Goumas was the trailer in the slot and went over Tokarski's shoulder. Pavel Padakin also picked up an assist.

The Phantoms made it 4-1 on Gostisbehere's first professional goal at 17:25 on the man-advantage. A bomb from the center point found it's way through traffic and into the net.  

Leier added his third of the season at 10:48 of the final frame to round out the scoring.

Notes: The veteran scratch was Jay Rosehill. These two teams square off again on Friday in Allentown.

Quotes: Scott Gordon on everything finally coming together: "I was pleased. The very first shift, we talked about the last game and the importance to set the tone early even though we didn't get possession off of our initial forechecks, we didn't allow them to get the puck and do anything from a attack perspective."

Gordon on the bounce back after St. John's opened the scoring: "I think you have to realize that the penalty is not an ideal situation. Even though they got the goal, you have to recognize what the situation was in the game. At that point, we were going pretty good and you know, you can't control that puck going into the net, in a sense. It's how you respond to it, and they responded well.

Gostisbehere on the goal: "Felt like awhile now, some of the guys were getting on me. Definitely feels good to get that one off my back."

Cousins, on how hard he was pushing for the hat trick after getting two: "Not that hard. Obviously, it's in the back of your mind, but it's more about the team than it is me. I was just trying to go out there and shut them down in the third. If it was gonna come, it was gonna come. It's not about me right now."

3 Stars:

1) LV-Nick Cousins

2) LV-Taylor Leier

3) LV-Shayne Gostisbehere

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

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