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Phantoms Blank Norfolk 3-0 in Game Two of East Division Semifinals

Saturday, April 23, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Antero Niittymaki made 32 saves to record his first career playoff shutout as the Philadelphia Phantoms posted a 3-0 victory over the Norfolk Admirals tonight in Game Two of the East Division Semifinals.

With the win, Philadelphia assumed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Games Three and Four are set for Monday and Wednesday in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m.

Niittymaki, who stopped 29-of-30 shots in Friday's 3-1 Game One victory, made 14 saves in the second period and 12 in the third tonight. The 24-year-old also helped kill all nine Norfolk power-play attempts, including a combined 2:43 of 5-on-3 time.

Todd Fedoruk and Jeff Carter each scored in the second period, while Ben Eager added a late power-play tally as Philadelphia recorded its sixth shutout in playoff history. Neil Little had notched the previous five, with the last occurring in April 2001 at Rochester.

Craig Anderson turned aside 26-of-29 shots to suffer the loss for the second straight night. The Admirals were also shut out in three of their final four regular-season games.

The teams played scoreless hockey during the opening period until Philadelphia jumped on top with goals by Fedoruk and Carter 2:13 apart in the second.

Dennis Seidenberg began the initial scoring sequence with a shot from the point and the rebound caromed off of Josh Gratton to Fedoruk in the far circle. The veteran left wing then buried the puck at the 7:39 mark for his first career playoff goal.

"The puck came to me at the right time and Anderson was down," said Fedoruk about the goal. "I saw a lot of net and threw it upstairs and it went in. It gave us some energy and we reacted to it."

Philadelphia padded its lead just over two minutes later when Ryan Ready deflected a Patrick Sharp clearing pass straight to a wide-open Carter in the neutral zone. The rookie darted in alone on goal and put a move on Anderson to make it 2-0 with 10:08 to go in the middle period.

"Sharpie fed Ready in the middle and he just kind of tipped it over there (to me)," said Carter, who also scored four goals for the Phantoms in last year's playoffs. "I was wheeling and had enough speed to get around the defense and by the goalie before he got over."

Norfolk came up empty on a 91-second two-man advantage late in the second stanza, including Matt Ellison getting robbed at the doorstep by Niittymaki, and then again late in the third for 82 seconds.

"We're going to have to clean up these penalties," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "They got a 5-on-3, where it was kind of a mental error and we gave them a chance to get back in the hockey game. I thought Niittymaki was great tonight. He made an unbelievable save on that 5-on-3. When you get saves like that, it sure gives you a jolt of energy to carry on."

The Phantoms then went on their sixth and final power play with 1:30 remaining and Eager tallied his first career playoff goal with 6.6 seconds during a scramble in front of the Admirals crease.

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 Riley Cote were scratched ... The Phantoms improved to 10-7 in Game Two of a playoff series and 14-8 when playing at the Wachovia Center during the postseason ... Philadelphia has scored five of its six goals during the second period this postseason.

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