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Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Blank Albany, 4-0

Saturday, April 16, 2005

By Kevin Kurz
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

The Philadelphia Phantoms scored twice in the first period and twice in the third, and Antero Niittymaki made 36 saves in defeating the Albany River Rats at Pepsi Arena, 4-0.

With the win, Philadelphia crept to within one point of the Binghamton Senators for first place in the East Division. Binghamton plays later tonight against the Hershey Bears in its final game of the season, while the Phantoms conclude their regular season tomorrow at home against the Norfolk Admirals.

The Phantoms swept the season series with the East Division bottom-dwelling River Rats, winning all six games. It was also Philadelphia's fourth straight victory and 10th in the last 13 games overall.

John Slaney opened the scoring with a goal at 11:06 of the first period. His shot from the center ice line somehow trickled through River Rats goaltender Ari Ahonen's pads and just across the goal line.

Later in the frame it was Joni Pitkanen who scored his sixth goal of the season. Pitkanen snuck behind the Albany defense to the side of the crease, took a feed from Mark Murphy and redirected it into the top of the net at 17:49 during a four-on-four situation.

The Phantoms penalty-killing unit was tested throughout the game; no more so than when Jeff Carter and Ben Stafford took consecutive penalties in the final minute of the second period. An extended five-on-three power play by Albany that carried over into the third period, however, failed to produce any goals.

Jon Sim's 37th goal of the season on a one-timer from R.J. Umberger at 5:39 of the third period made it a 3-0 game, and Randy Jones found daylight with a weak wrist shot from the blue line on the power play at 11:16 to cap the scoring.

The Phantoms killed off all eight Albany power plays, and were 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

The shutout was Niittymaki's sixth of the season.

Phantoms Notes: Boyd Kane, Wade Skolney, Riley Cote and Charlie Cook were the healthy scratches for the Phantoms. ... Murphy left the game in the second period after taking a puck to the face and did not return. He assisted on the first two goals. ... Umberger had two assists on the afternoon and now has 19 points (4G, 15A) in his last 14 games. ... The Phantoms are 29-2 when scoring at least four goals.

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