|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Blank Mighty Ducks 3-0
Friday, February 18, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
Antero Niittymaki made 36 saves and rookie Ben Eager had a goal and an assist to lead the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks tonight at Cincinnati Gardens.
Making his 12th consecutive start in net for the Phantoms, Niittymaki stopped 12 shots in the first period, 11 in the second and 13 in the third stanza to notch his third shutout of the season. The 2005 AHL All-Star now has 10 career shutouts as a Phantom and 18 as a pro.
Jon Sim and Dennis Seidenberg also scored and R.J. Umberger contributed two assists for Philadelphia, which has won three straight road games. The Phantoms have killed of 23 power plays in a row, including all six for Cincinnati tonight.
Ilya Bryzgalov recorded 23 saves for Cincinnati, which lost at home for just the second time in its last 13 tries. The Mighty Ducks were also shut out at home for the first time since Nov. 30, 2003.
The opening period featured no goals and just one penalty before Sim put Philadelphia on top at 1:36 of the second. Umberger took a feed from Eager on the play and fired a shot on net. Bryzgalov made the initial save, but Sim was there to hack away at the rebound and tally his 16th goal of the year and 14th as a Phantom.
Eager doubled the lead to 2-0 with 3:58 to go in the middle period when he deflected in a shot from the left point by Joni Pitkanen. Umberger also assisted on Eager's third goal of the season and first since Nov. 5.
The 21-year-old Eager entered the game with just six points this season and registered his first career multi-point game.
The Phantoms took a power play into the third stanza and converted at the 59-second mark on Seidenberg's seventh goal. John Slaney and Ben Stafford helped set up the German defenseman's first score since Jan. 9.
Late in the period, Philadelphia had a pair of penalties 26 seconds apart and the Mighty Ducks pulled Bryzgalov for a rare three-man advantage, but still couldn't beat Niittymaki.
Philadelphia improved to 3-0 vs. the Ducks this season and is unbeaten in its last six meetings with Cincinnati.
The Phantoms continue their season-high five-game road trip on Saturday in Milwaukee and on Sunday in Grand Rapids. Philadelphia then plays at Cincinnati again on Wednesday before its next home game on Friday, Feb. 25 vs. the Hershey Bears.
Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, Wade Skolney, Josh Gratton, Randy Jones and Rosario Ruggeri did not travel due to injury ... Tony Voce and Eric Meloche were scratched ... Philadelphia is also unbeaten in its last six visits (5-0-1) to Cincinnati since its last loss there on March 28, 2001 ... The Phantoms lead the all-time series 35-9-5 ... Stafford recorded his 100th assist as a pro.