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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Albany 5-4 in Shootout

Saturday, January 1, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms snapped a five-game losing streak tonight with a 5-4 shootout win over the Albany River Rats at Pepsi Arena.

Playing in their fourth shootout in the last six games, the Phantoms scored on their first two attempts by Mark Murphy and Patrick Sharp to take a 2-1 lead through two rounds. Following misses by both teams, Ben Stafford and Albany's Eric Johansson each scored in the fourth round as Philadelphia clung to a 3-2 lead.

Defenseman John Slaney was called upon for the fifth round, but was stopped by River Rats goaltender Scott Clemmensen, leaving it up to Ivan Khomutov. However, Neil Little stopped the young Russian center to earn the victory in his first experience in a shootout.

Boyd Kane, R.J. Umberger, Slaney and Josh Gratton all scored in regulation for Philadelphia, which had lost in its last three shootouts. Little recorded 24 saves and has lost just two of his last 13 starts dating back to last season.

Clemmensen finished with 40 saves as Albany lost its eighth game in a row. The River Rats have dropped both meetings with Philadelphia this year and 11 of their last 12 games overall at home.

Albany's Adrian Foster and Kane traded first-period goals before Umberger gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead at 8:42 of the second stanza. Jon Sim set up the rookie's 10th goal of the year and first since Dec. 4.

Slaney widened the gap to 3-1 with a power-play goal, his fifth, at 4:39 of the third period. But Ray Schultz answered for Albany 61 seconds later and then assisted on Pascal Rheaume's team-leading 12th goal at 6:14 as the River Rats fought back to knot the score at 3-3.

Philadelphia re-took the lead on Gratton's fifth goal at 9:53, but Albany retaliated again just 41 seconds later on Teemu Kesa's second goal that made it 4-4.

The Phantoms outshot Albany, 45-28, and went 1-for-5 on the power play. The River Rats were 0-for-4 with a man advantage.

The Phantoms return to action on Sunday at 6:35 p.m., when they entertain the Rochester Americans at the Wachovia Spectrum. Philadelphia and Rochester will be meeting for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.

Phantoms Notes: Todd Fedoruk, Freddy Meyer, Joey Hope, Wade Skolney and Riley Cote were scratched ... Joni Pitkanen had an assist to extend his point streak to five games (1G, 5A) ... Kane has eight points (2G, 6A) in his last eight games ... Philadelphia's five-game losing streak was one shy of a club record ... The team also ended a three-game road losing skid.

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