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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Lose 6-4 in Wilkes-Barre

Saturday, December 11, 2004

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Michel Ouellet scored three times, including the game-winner with 1:29 remaining, tonight at the Wachovia Arena to lead the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Kris Beech added a goal and three assists, while Matt Murley contributed a goal and two assists for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which avenged a pair of 3-2 shootout losses to the Phantoms earlier this season. The Penguins were hosting the Phantoms for the first time since eliminating them in Game Six of last year's East Division Finals.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 15-of-19 shots as Wilkes-Barre won at home for the fifth time in its last six tries. His counterpart Neil Little finished with 20 saves as his personal eight-game unbeaten streak came to an end.

Joni Pitkanen scored his first two career AHL goals and Patrick Sharp recorded two assists for Philadelphia, which has lost four of its last five games since winning a league-record 17 in a row.

A day after scoring 15 seconds into a 4-3 loss vs. Hershey, Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead 22 seconds into tonight's game. John Slaney took a feed from Sharp on the play and skated across the crease, getting Fleury out of position for his second goal of the year.

Slaney, who played in Wilkes-Barre from 1999-2001, has scored both of his goals this year vs. the Penguins.

But Wilkes-Barre responded with goals by Beech and Ouellet to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Beech netted his fourth goal on a breakaway at the 4:28 mark before Ouellet tallied his 16th at 8:59. Murley assisted on both scores.

Ouellet struck again 4:46 into the second period with an unassisted goal before Philadelphia retaliated with a pair of scores 43 seconds apart to knot it at 3-3. Ben Stafford made it a one-goal game at 13:06 when his one-timer from Dennis Seidenberg sailed past Fleury. Randy Jones also assisted on Stafford's seventh goal.

Eight seconds after Rob Scuderi was sent off for interference, Pitkanen evened the score with his first goal as a Phantom. Ryan Ready notched his 100th AHL assist on the play.

The Penguins had a five-minute power play thanks to a slashing major on David Printz and moved ahead 4-3 on Tomas Surovy's seventh goal at 2:50 of the third stanza. The lead held up until the 17:42 mark, when Pitkanen ripped a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle for his second of the game.

But Ouellet completed his hat trick at 18:31 to make it 5-4 and Murley scored an empty-netter with 41.7 seconds to play to seal the win.

Philadelphia is back home at the Wachovia Spectrum on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. vs. the defending Calder Cup-champion Milwaukee Admirals. The Phantoms then travel to Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday to battle the Springfield Falcons at 7:30 p.m.

Phantoms Notes: Freddy Meyer, Wade Skolney, Tony Voce and Mark Murphy were scratched ... Ouellet's hat trick was the 23rd against the Phantoms in club history ... Philadelphia had won the last four regular-season meetings with the Penguins ... Eric Meloche made his first appearance in Wilkes-Barre after playing the last four seasons with the Penguins ... The six goals allowed was the most since a 6-5 loss in Binghamton last February 7.

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