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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Win Game Four in Third Overtime
Able Scores Winner at 113:02 Mark

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

B.J. Abel scored 13:02 into the third overtime to lift the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 2-1 victory over the Norfolk Admirals in Game Four of the East Division Semifinals tonight at the Norfolk Scope.

With the win, Philadelphia took a three games to one lead in the best-of-seven series. Game Five is set for Friday at the Scope.

The running time of 113:02 is the longest in Phantoms history and the eighth longest in AHL annals. Philadelphia's previous record for the longest game was 100:42 - a 3-2 loss in Hershey in Game Six of the 1997 Mid-Atlantic Division Finals.

Mark Murphy also scored and Antero Niittymaki stopped 49-of-50 shots as Philadelphia improved to 10-1 all-time in Game Four of a playoff series. The Phantoms are also now 8-7 when a playoff game goes into overtime.

Craig Anderson finished with 54 saves for the Admirals, whose only win in the series was a 2-1 overtime decision in Game Two.

Murphy opened the scoring for the second straight night, this time depositing a slap shot past Anderson during a 5-on-3 situation. With Anton Babchuk and Yorick Treille in the box serving respective high sticking and charging minors, Randy Jones took a feed from Ian MacNeil and set up Murphy for a one-timer from the near circle.

The drive sailed just inside the near post at the 15:38 mark for Murphy's third goal in the last two games.

Norfolk responded with 32 seconds to go in the first period during a power play of its own. Duncan Keith took the initial shot from a step inside the blue line and Quintin Laing was there to knock it in for his fourth goal of the postseason. Mikhail Yakubov also assisted on the play.

After scoreless second and third periods, each team threatened in the opening minutes of the first overtime. Niittymaki stopped Treille at the doorstep 30 seconds in and Anderson denied Jones' drive from 15 feet out. Philadelphia outshot the Admirals, 12-5, in the first overtime.

Following a scoreless second overtime, the decisive play began with Abel assuming possession at the Phantoms blue line.

He crossed through the neutral zone and temporarily lost the puck in a crowd of players at the Norfolk blue line. But the rookie center regained control and let loose a shot from straight away that deflected off the stick of Admirals defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and floated into the top right corner of the net past a helpless Anderson.

It was the first goal of the postseason for Abel, who tallied six times during the regular season.

Games Six and Seven, if necessary, will be played in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 1 and Monday, May 3 at the Wachovia Center.

Phantoms Notes: Stephen Wood, James Laux, Les Borsheim, Stefan Ruzicka and Craig Berube were scratched ... Ben Eager and Dennis Seidenberg did not travel ... The Phantoms have scored first in all four games.

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