|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Edge Falcons 3-2
Sunday, January 25, 2004
By Al Cohen
Rookie Nick Deschenes scored the game-winning goal with 4:25 remaining as the Philadelphia Phantoms posted their ninth win in their last 10 games with a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Ben Stafford assisted on all three Philadelphia goals and Kirby Law added two assists as the Phantoms passed Bridgeport for first place in the East Division. Philadelphia now has 59 points through 46 games, while the Sound Tigers have 58 in 44 contests.
Neil Little won for the second night in a row by stopping 24-of-26 shots. The Phantoms completed a two-game season sweep of the Falcons, as they also notched a 3-2 victory in overtime in Springfield back on Jan. 9.
David LeNeveu made 29 saves for Springfield, which converted on only one of 11 power-play opportunities.
"Certainly it was the whole difference in the hockey game," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens about his team's penalty killing. "We were shorthanded for half the hockey game and it's a difficult way to play having three games in three nights, but it was a huge effort from the goaltender right on out. It was certainly the reason we had a chance at the end of the game."
Springfield opened the scoring 2:34 into the game during its first of six power plays in the first period. Frantisek Lukes netted his second of the year from Goran Bezina and Peter Ferraro, snapping Philadelphia's scoreless streak at an even 130 consecutive minutes.
The Phantoms gave Springfield four power-play attempts in the second period, but managed to even the score at 1-1 during a 4-on-4 situation. Law and Stafford worked the puck to Freddy Meyer, who skated around the net and pulled up inside the near circle.
The rookie defenseman then tallied his second goal in as many nights and fourth of the year with a slap shot over LeNeveu's left shoulder at the 12:21 mark.
Springfield re-took the lead 1:27 into the third period when Erik Westrum followed in a miss by Nikos Tselios. It was Westrum's 10th goal of the year.
Philadelphia responded with a power-play by Randy Jones at the 6:50 mark to knot the score at 2-2. Joey Hope and Stafford set up Jones' fifth goal - a long bouncing shot that LeNeveu was unable to control.
Deschenes, who was recalled from the Trenton Titans earlier in the day, then tallied his fifth goal and second game-winner with 4:25 to play when his one-timer from Law and Stafford squirted over the goal line.
The Phantoms, who had posted 2-0 wins in each of the last two nights, extended their current home winning streak to six games. It is the longest such streak since an eight-game run late in the 1998-99 season.
"Three games in three nights, any time you do that, the third game is always the toughest," said Stafford. "They were on the end of three in three too, so we knew it was going to be a hard game. Both teams tried to keep it simple and we just stuck to our game plan and killed off a lot of penalties, which was great, and capitalized on the power play and persevered."
The Phantoms continue their season-high five-game homestand on Friday at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Hartford Wolf Pack. Philadelphia is also in action next weekend on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Center vs. the Milwaukee Admirals.
Phantoms Notes: James Laux was an injured scratch, while Ian MacNeil was a healthy scratch ... Peter Vandermeer was suspended due to a match penalty he received in Saturday's 2-0 win in Hershey ... Philadelphia had killed 20 straight penalties before Lukes' goal ... John Slaney played in his 700th game as a pro ... Philadelphia is 7-5-2 all-time vs. Springfield.
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