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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Slaney Leads Phantoms To 4-0 Win Over Bruins
Niittymaki Makes 31 Saves In Shutout

Friday, March 12, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

John Slaney recorded two goals and two assists and Antero Niittymaki made 31 saves to lead the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 4-0 victory over the host Providence Bruins tonight at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Boyd Kane and Ben Stafford also scored as Philadelphia won its third straight game and moved two points ahead of the idle Bridgeport Sound Tigers for first place in the AHL's East Division. The Phantoms also closed within two points of the Hartford Wolf Pack for the Eastern Conference lead.

Slaney set up Philadelphia's first two goals before scoring twice in the third period to tie a team season high for points in a game (4). It was Slaney's most productive game as a Phantom since also registering four points (3G, 1A) on Jan. 18, 2002 in Hartford.

Niittymaki turned aside 14 shots in the second period and 12 in the third to win his third straight start and notch his fifth shutout of the season, which is a new club record. Philadelphia's nine shutouts this year shatters the old mark of five set in 2000-01.

Tim Thomas finished with 18 saves for Providence, which has lost three in a row overall and five of its last six at home.

Kane tallied the lone goal of the first period at the 15:37 mark - 10 seconds after Providence's Ed Campbell was sent off for holding the stick. The Phantoms won the ensuing face-off and Slaney worked the puck to fellow defenseman Kirk Furey, who let loose a shot from the point. Kane was able to deflect it past Thomas for his 12th of the year.

Philadelphia increased its lead to 2-0 during another power play at 17:27 of the second stanza. Slaney again started the play by feeding Freddy Meyer at the point and the rookie defenseman found Stafford at the backdoor for his 11th goal.

Slaney took over in the third period, netting his 14th of the year at the 4:25 mark. On the power play, Peter White and Kirby Law fed the four-time AHL All-Star for a drive from the point that sailed over Thomas' shoulder.

The Phantoms capped the scoring on Slaney's second of the night with 7:50 remaining, with Law and White receiving assists. Slaney extended his current point streak to seven games (8G, 5A), which matches Law for the longest on the team this season.

Philadelphia also matched a club record by recording its third consecutive shutout vs. Providence. The Phantoms posted a 4-0 win over the Bruins on Jan. 12, 2002, did not play them in 2002-03, and then registered a 1-0 victory on Nov. 16 of this season behind 24 saves by Niittymaki. Earlier this year, Philadelphia set the record by blanking the Hershey Bears in three straight meetings.

Philadelphia plays at Manchester on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. and in Portland on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. before returning home to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Tuesday, March 16 and Friday, March 19. Saturday's game in Manchester will be televised live on CN8.

Phantoms Notes: James Laux, Craig Berube and Nick Deschenes were healthy scratches ... Dennis Seidenberg did not travel as he continues to recover from a broken leg ... The Phantoms are 9-0-2 when Kane scores in a game, including 6-0 on the road ... Philadelphia leads the all-time series, 12-3-1 ... White has eight assists in his last seven games ... Law has 17 points (5G, 12A) in his last 14 games ... Stafford has five points (3G, 2A) in his last three games ... Philadelphia has eight power-play goals in its last three games ... The Phantoms' 37 wins are its most since finishing with 44 in 1999-2000.

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