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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Sharp's Shootout Goals Give Phantoms 4-3 Win

Saturday, January 8, 2005

By Kevin Kurz
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Patrick Sharp scored two shootout goals and Neil Little stopped Michel Ouellet on the final attempt by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as the Phantoms defeated the Penguins at Wachovia Arena, 4-3.

With Philadelphia leading 3-2 heading into the third period, Kris Beech scored a breakaway goal just 21 seconds into the frame. There was no more scoring from either team from that point on, until the game had to be decided in a shootout.

Ben Stafford and Joni Pitkanen also scored in the shootout, as Philadelphia increased its lead over the rival Penguins to seven points in the East Division.

The Phantoms are now 5-3 in games decided by a shootout.

Philadelphia scored the only goal of the first period to take a 1-0 lead. On the play, John Slaney skated the puck around the net and found Eric Meloche parked at the side of the crease. His pass through the slot resulted in a slam dunk goal for the former Penguin at 4:45 during a 4-on-4 situation.

The Penguins responded on a one-timer by Maxime Talbot at 2:09, who was left alone in the slot. Talbot ripped a shot past Little's glove hand on a pass from Matt Hussey to tie the game.

R.J. Umberger's 11th goal of the season gave Philadelphia the lead at 4:19 of the second period. With the puck deep in the Phantoms' zone, Little cleared the puck up the boards to Umberger, who skated it past the blue line. Umberger took a slap shot with the puck standing on its end, but it still fluttered past Marc-Andre Fleury and into the Pens' goal.

The assist was Little's first point since Feb. 20, 2004 in Hershey.

The teams then traded goals just eight seconds apart to make it 3-2 at the second intermission. Ouellet's power play tally at 7:34 briefly tied the game, but Jon Sim's one-timer from the top of the circle on a feed from Sharp shortly after the ensuing faceoff put the Phantoms back on top.

Fleury, the first overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, was replaced by goaltender Dany Sabourin after Sim's goal. Sabourin stopped all 24 shots he faced in regulation and overtime.

Philadelphia returns home to the Spectrum on Sunday night to face the Albany River Rats at 5:05 p.m. Prior to the game, the team will honor former head coach Bill Barber and tough-guy Frank Bialowas as the first-ever Phantoms Hall of Fame inductees.

Phantoms Notes

Early whistles from referee Justin St. Pierre negated two goals in the game, one in the first period for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and one in the second period for Philadelphia on a Tony Voce breakaway. ... Meloche changed his uniform number to 27 prior to the game. Nick Deschenes, recalled from Trenton earlier in the day, will wear Meloche's former number, 22. ... Antero Niittymaki did not make the trip due to injury and is day-to-day. Other injured Phantoms include Josh Gratton, Ben Eager, Boyd Kane, Freddy Meyer, David Printz, Todd Fedoruk and Joey Hope. ... Ryan Ready served the final game of his three-game suspension.

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