|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Rally But Lose 4-3 to Penguins
Endicott Scores Game-Winner with 2.4 Seconds Left
Sunday, March 6, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
The Philadelphia Phantoms overcame a three-goal third-period deficit but suffered a 4-3 loss when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Shane Endicott scored with 2.4 seconds remaining tonight in front of a crowd of 9,874 at the Wachovia Spectrum.
Matt Hussey's second goal of the night at 2:32 of the third period gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 3-0 lead before the Phantoms began their rally. Jon Sim started the comeback at 7:01 when he deflected a Tony Voce shot past Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. R.J. Umberger also assisted on the power-play goal.
Phantoms captain Boyd Kane narrowed the gap to 3-2 with 3:34 to play during a flurry in front of the Wilkes-Barre crease. Todd Fedoruk and Randy Jones set up Kane's sixth goal.
Things appeared bleak for Philadelphia at the 17:54 mark when the Penguins went on a power play due to a boarding call on Ben Eager, but the Phantoms pulled goaltender Neil Little with 66 seconds to go and Sim evened the score at 3-3 at 19:10 as he followed in a wide shot by John Slaney.
The goal was Sim's 23rd of the season, 21st as a Phantom and second shorthanded score in as many nights. Sim also leads Philadelphia with five multi-goal games.
The game appeared to be heading into overtime until Colby Armstrong and Matt Murley set up Endicott for the game-winner at 19:57, a wrister over Little's shoulder from the near circle.
"My team really showed me something by coming back and tying the game," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We were shorthanded and pulled the goalie and it was amazing that we stayed with it. But, I don't think we were very good tonight. We looked like a tired hockey team. It was almost unbelievable that that (Wilkes-Barre's goal) happened at the end of the game. There are no other words to describe it."
The win was Wilkes-Barre's fourth in a row and moved the team into a first-place tie with Binghamton in the East Division. The Phantoms and Norfolk are tied for third, one point back.
Philadelphia has dropped its last four meetings with the Penguins, including Saturday's 4-3 loss in Wilkes-Barre, and trails the season series, 6-3. The teams meet for the final time on April 3 in Philadelphia.
Coming off Saturday's two-goal performance vs. the Phantoms, Hussey opened the scoring 2:03 into tonight's game. Michel Ouellet took a feed from Ross Lupaschuk on the play and skated down the near boards before offering a centering pass to Hussey, who wristed in his 10th goal of the year.
Lupaschuk doubled the Penguins lead at 8:20 of the second stanza while Philadelphia's Ryan Ready served a high-sticking minor. Ryan Whitney and Erik Christensen set up the long slap shot that made its way through traffic and past Little.
Fleury finished with 31 saves to notch the win, while Little stopped 16-of-20 shots in defeat.
The Phantoms begin a four-game road trip on Wednesday in Lowell, which will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet. Philadelphia also plays in Manchester, Portland and Worcester next weekend before its next home game on Friday, March 18 vs. Worcester.
Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, Joni Pitkanen and Mark Murphy were scratched ... Josh Gratton was suspended by the AHL ... Sim has nine points (7G, 2A) in his last six games ... Umberger has a four-game point streak (1G, 5A) ... Each team was 1-for-8 on the power play.