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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Lose 2-1 in Overtime in Game Two of Division Semifinals

Friday, April 23, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Quintin Laing scored the winning goal 9:51 into overtime to lift the visiting Norfolk Admirals to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms in Game Two of the East Division Semifinals tonight at the Wachovia Center.

Norfolk, which lost Game One by a score of 2-1 on Wednesday, will now return home to host Games Three through Five next week.

Making his first appearance of the playoffs, Craig Anderson made 28 saves to notch the win for Norfolk. His counterpart Antero Niittymaki turned aside 14-of-16 shots to suffer the loss.

Philadelphia outshot the Admirals, 6-3, in overtime and had a two-minute man advantage when Duncan Keith hooked Kirby Law on a mini breakaway. Anderson robbed former Admiral Peter White during the power play on an attempt from the doorstep and the Phantoms did not threaten again.

On the winning play, Jason Morgan took a feed from Johnathan Aitken behind the net and found Laing in the far circle. The left winger then threaded a shot past Niittymaki for his third goal of the postseason.

"We certainly thought we had our chances to win the hockey game, said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "It was a funny game that went in spurts where they came at us for a while. In the third period and overtime we had our opportunities and had some great chances on the power play, but ultimately a breakdown beats you. We knew this was going to be a tough series. I think we can play better overall than we did tonight, as our team game was a little sporadic at times. We have a couple of days to regroup and get back on the road."

Philadelphia's Ian MacNeil provided the lone goal of the first period during Norfolk's first power play of the game. With teammate Kirk Furey serving a roughing minor, MacNeil came up with a loose puck at center ice and darted down the far side before beating Anderson far post at the 4:15 mark.

The goal was MacNeil's second in as many games in the series. The veteran center tied for the team lead in shorthanded goals during the regular season with two.

After getting off just four shots during the opening period, Norfolk evened the score 6:51 into the second - just 10 seconds after P.J. Stock was sent off for elbowing. Ajay Baines tallied his first goal of the playoffs, with assists going to Marty Wilford and Burke Henry.

The Phantoms had a 5-on-3 advantage for the first 1:27 of the third period, but came up empty.

"We had a lot of opportunities to score, I know I had a couple of chances," said Phantoms forward Mark Murphy. "We both battled hard all game, it was a hard-fought game. They got the bounces at the end and made a good play. That's hockey, sometimes you're going to get it, sometimes you're not."

Despite the game going into overtime, Philadelphia established a playoff record by allowing just 16 shots on goal. The previous record of 18 was set vs. Hershey in Game Five of the 1997 Mid-Atlantic Division Finals.

The series now moves to Norfolk for Game Three on Tuesday. The Admirals will also host Game Four on Wednesday and Game Five next Friday, April 30. Games Six and Seven, if necessary, will be played in Philadelphia on May 1 & 3.

Phantoms Notes: Stephen Wood, James Laux, Mike Peluso, Les Borsheim, Brett Engelhardt, Ben Eager, Joey Hope and Craig Berube were scratches ... Philadelphia fell to 7-7 when going into overtime during the playoffs ... The team is now 9-7 when playing a postseason game at the Center ... The Phantoms finished 0-for-7 on the power play.

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