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Phantoms Stay Alive With 4-2 Win in Game Five of East Division Finals

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Peter White scored the game-winning goal 9:40 into the third period and Jeff Carter added an empty-netter as the Philadelphia Phantoms stayed alive in the East Division Finals with a 4-2 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game Five tonight at the Wachovia Center.

Mark Murphy and Ben Stafford also scored for the Phantoms, who trail the best-of-seven series three games to two. Game Six is set for this Friday in Wilkes-Barre.

Antero Niittymaki, the AHL leader in postseason minutes played, stopped 31-of-33 shots to notch his sixth win of the playoffs. His counterpart, Andy Chiodo, who recorded shutouts in Games Three and Four, finished with 20 saves on 23 shots faced.

After Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rallied to tie the game at 2-2, White netted the game-winner during a scramble in front of the Penguins net. Ben Eager and Steve Gainey received assists on White's second goal of the playoffs.

"We were on our heals, obviously, and Wilkes-Barre was coming hard and trying to end the series," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "They were in a situation where in 20 minutes (the third period) they could move on. They came at us extremely hard and we weren't matching their energy and urgency. So, we just called time out and the guys responded."

The Penguins went on a power play with 3:49 remaining due to a holding call on B.J. Abel, and got another man advantage with 1:16 to go when Wade Skolney was called for playing with a broken stick.

Chiodo was pulled to make it 6-on-4 with one minute to play, but Ian MacNeil fed Carter for an empty-netter six seconds later to seal the win. It was Carter's fourth postseason goal.

"We knew our backs were against the wall here and we knew if we won this game, we take a little bit of momentum back there," said Kirby Law. "We just carry this into there and hopefully get another win down there."

The Phantoms improved to 3-6 all-time in Game Five of a playoff series and 11-0 when wearing their purple third jerseys at home this season.

Philadelphia opened the scoring for the first time in the series at 12:47 of the first period on Murphy's fourth goal of the postseason. Carter took a feed from MacNeil on the play and weaved his way deep into Penguins territory before setting up Murphy for a wrister past an out-of-position Chiodo.

The goal was Philadelphia's first since Carter's game-winning overtime tally in Game Two.

Stafford widened the gap to 2-0 just over two minutes later with his first goal of the playoffs. During a lengthy Philadelphia possession, Stafford came up with a loose puck between the circles and wound up for a slap shot.

The center only got a piece of it, but the puck deflected off the stick of Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and trickled through Chiodo's pads at the 14:56 mark. John Slaney and Law received assists on the play.

Wilkes-Barre scored the lone goal of the second period, just 16 seconds after Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones was sent off for cross checking. Kris Beech darted down the far side and had his initial shot blocked by Slaney, but stayed with the play and placed the rebound past Niittymaki at the 15:06 mark. Patrick Boileau assisted on Beech's fifth goal.

The Penguins evened the score at 2-2 just 1:32 into the third period when Matt Murley found a wide-open Shane Endicott with a cross-ice pass. Alain Nasreddine also set up Endicott's fifth playoff goal and fourth in as many games.

If necessary, Game Seven would be played on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.

Phantoms Notes: Stephen Wood, Nick Deschenes, James Laux, Les Borsheim, Kirk Furey, Mike Peluso, Stefan Ruzicka and Craig Berube were scratched ... Wilkes-Barre outshot the Phantoms, 15-5, in the third period ... Philadelphia was 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Penguins were 1-for-6 ... The Phantoms are 5-1 when scoring first this postseason.

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