|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Cruise to 4-1 Win Over Penguins in Game Two of East Division Finals
Friday, May 6, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
Antero Niittymaki made 30 saves and four different Phantoms scored as Philadelphia cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight in Game Two of the East Division Finals.
The Phantoms also posted a 4-1 win in the series opener on Wednesday and will take a two-games-to-none lead into Game Three in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night. The Penguins also host Game Four on Tuesday.
Joni Pitkanen, Jon Sim, Jeff Carter and Eric Meloche all scored, while Mike Richards and Patrick Sharp each contributed two assists. The Phantoms tallied a pair of power-play goals for the second straight game and have killed all nine Wilkes-Barre/Scranton man-advantage situations in the series.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who came on in relief in Game One, stopped 22-of-26 shots tonight for the Penguins.
The Phantoms jumped out to a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play for the second straight game thanks to Pitkanen's first goal of the postseason. During a 4-on-4 situation, Sharp gained control of the puck in the Penguins zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Pitkanen, who beat Fleury near post with a bullet from the far edge of the face-off circle.
Pitkanen also tallied three of his six regular-season goals against Wilkes-Barre.
"He (Pitkanen) sure played with some fire tonight," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "Joni was slapping his stick and wanted the puck and had that look in his eye like he wanted to play. This was one of the best games he had all year and he was a good hockey player from start to finish."
Philadelphia was outshot 13-8 during the second stanza, but managed to make it 2-0 on its first power play of the game. Over halfway through a roughing minor on Wilkes-Barre's Alexandre Rouleau, Sim fired a wrister on net and eventually tapped in the loose puck during a scramble in front for his third goal of the playoffs.
Richards and R.J. Umberger assisted on the goal at the 12:46 mark of the middle period. It was Sim's team-leading third power-play score this postseason.
Carter widened the gap to 3-0 just 18 seconds into an early third-period power play. Sharp and Randy Jones worked the puck to Carter in the corner and the rookie skated into the center before getting Fleury out of position and sliding the puck into an open net at 2:54.
The goal was Carter's sixth of the playoffs, which ties him for the league lead.
"Certainly at this time of year, you need special teams," added Stevens. "We got that power-play goal in the third period and our penalty killing did the job, so it's good to see that this time of year."
After Colby Armstrong netted Wilkes-Barre's lone goal at the 7:11 mark, former Penguin Meloche capped the scoring with a blast from the far circle. Richards and Boyd Kane received assists on the play with 6:24 to play.
Niittymaki, who made 13 of his 30 saves in the second period, is now 6-2 with a 1.63 goals-against average in the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre are meeting in the East Division Finals for the second straight year. The Penguins captured last season's series in six games and then won six of 10 match-ups during the regular season.
Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, David Printz, Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Murphy, Ben Eager and Tony Voce were scratched ... The Phantoms have outscored their opposition 10-3 during the second period this postseason ... Philadelphia's penalty-killing unit is 45-for-48 in the playoffs ... The Phantoms improved to 10-1 in 2004-05 when playing at the Wachovia Center (5-1 regular season & 5-0 playoffs) ... Philadelphia is 11-7 all-time in Game Two of a playoff series ... The Phantoms had never played a game before on May 6.