|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Extend Win Streak to Seven Games with 3-1 Victory over Mighty Ducks
Sunday, November 7, 2004
By Al Cohen
Mark Murphy and R.J. Umberger each scored in the third period to help the Philadelphia Phantoms extend their winning streak to seven games with a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks tonight at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Ben Stafford added a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, which is 7-0 since beginning the season with a pair of losses. It is the team's longest win streak since also capturing seven in a row from Nov. 18-Dec. 2, 2000.
Making just his second appearance of the season, Neil Little stopped 20-of-21 shots to earn the win. The veteran goaltender improved to 4-0-1 in his last five starts dating back to last season.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who played for Team Russia at this summer's World Championships, finished with 18 saves for Cincinnati, which also dropped a 4-2 decision in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Phantoms are now unbeaten in their last five meetings (3-0-2) with the Mighty Ducks.
Cincinnati tallied the lone goal of the opening period during the first power play of the game. With Ryan Ready in the box due to an instigator minor and the Mighty Ducks on a 6-on-4 thanks to a delayed tripping penalty on Tony Voce, Sheldon Brookbank blasted a shot that rang off the crossbar.
The rebound came right back to Joel Perrault between the circles and the center slid it past Little at the 1:57 mark. Joffrey Lupul also received an assist on Perrault's fourth of the year.
Cincinnati maintained its 1-0 lead deep into the second period until Stafford evened the score with his first goal of the season. Josh Gratton took a feed from Dennis Seidenberg on the play and backhanded a shot on net before Stafford followed in the rebound at the 13:51 mark.
"The past few games, we came out slow in the first period," said Stafford. "It's something that we need to work on. We played a good team game tonight and got some goals from different players, which is nice to see."
Just 41 seconds later, a combined 61 penalty minutes were assessed during a fracas in front of the Mighty Ducks goal. Wade Skolney and Cincinnati's Sean O'Connor left with game misconducts from the altercation.
Murphy netted the game-winner 3:53 into the final period as he circled the crease before placing his fourth goal past a sprawling Bryzgalov.
"We have a lot of character here," said Murphy. "We don't get phased by anything. We took a lot of penalties at first, but we just kept working hard and stayed together."
Patrick Sharp had the second assist on the goal and remained the only Phantom to record a point in every game this season. His 11-game point streak dating back to last year is the longest in club history since Kirby Law went 14 games in a row with a point from Feb. 24-March 30, 2001.
Umberger provided a huge insurance goal with 5:27 remaining when he placed a slap shot over Bryzgalov's left shoulder. Stafford set up the rookie's first career goal.
"It was just a matter of time before R.J. scored," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "He has been getting four or five scoring opportunities a game. It's nice to see him get his first goal and get rewarded for his good play."
Three separate altercations took place over the final three minutes of the game, as the teams combined to finish with 203 penalty minutes.
The Phantoms conclude their season-high four-game homestand on Friday at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. It is the teams' first meeting since Wilkes-Barre eliminated Philadelphia in last year's East Division Finals.
Phantoms Notes: Boyd Kane, Eric Meloche and Todd Fedoruk sat out due to injuries ... David Printz was a healthy scratch ... Philadelphia is off to its first-ever 5-0 start. The team began the 1998-99 campaign with a 5-0-1 mark ... The Phantoms entered the game with the top power-play unit in the AHL (29.3 percent), but went 0-for-8 tonight.