|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Defeat Norfolk 3-1 in Game One of East Division Semifinals
Friday, April 22, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
Antero Niittymaki made 29 saves and the Philadelphia Phantoms scored three times in the second period en route to a 3-1 victory over the Norfolk Admirals in Game One of the East Division Semifinals.
Niittymaki recorded 11 saves in both the second and third periods to help Philadelphia take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game Two is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.
Ben Stafford, John Slaney and Jon Sim all scored in the middle period, while Patrick Sharp and Dennis Seidenberg each collected two assists. The Phantoms finished with a pair of power-play goals against the best penalty-killing unit during the regular season.
"They're the best penalty kill in the league, so we knew we had to shoot the puck and take advantage of getting pucks in the net," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "We were happy with our play 5-on-5 and any time your power play gets two goals, your percentage of winning is pretty good."
Craig Anderson finished with 30 saves for Norfolk, which had won six of the 10 regular-season meetings vs. Philadelphia.
Following a scoreless opening period, Josh Gratton's high-sticking major carried over into the second stanza and Norfolk capitalized to assume a 1-0 lead. AHL Rookie of the Year Rene Bourque tallied the goal 55 seconds into the period, with assists going to Marty Wilford and Matt Ellison.
Philadelphia killed off a 65-second 5-on-3 situation later in the period before exploding for three goals to take a 3-1 lead.
Stafford evened the score at the 9:40 mark when he accepted Joni Pitkanen's centering pass and fired a shot that made its way through Anderson and barely over the goal line.
Sharp also assisted on Stafford's goal and then fed Slaney for a power-play tally at 11:27 that put Philadelphia ahead for good. Slaney's initial one-timer was blocked on the play, but the rebound kicked back to him and he placed his second effort over Anderson's shoulder.
Sim extended the lead with 52.5 seconds left in the second as Wilford served a tripping minor. R.J. Umberger took a feed from Seidenberg and launched a shot from the near circle. The puck caromed out to Sim, who deposited the puck past Anderson from a difficult angle.
"We had some adversity at the start of the game," said Phantoms forward Todd Fedoruk. "We took some penalties but stuck together through it and came out in the end on top. The team played well together tonight and that's why we won."
Philadelphia went 2-for-7 on the power play, while Norfolk was 1-for-8.
These two teams are meeting in the division semifinals for the second year in a row, as Philadelphia captured last season's series in six games.
Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, David Printz, Charlie Cook, Mark Murphy and Tony Voce were scratched ... The Phantoms improved to 10-7 in Game One of a playoff series and 13-8 when playing at the Wachovia Center during the postseason ... Game Two will be televised live by Comcast SportsNet.