|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Fall 3-1 in Game Three of East Division Finals
Saturday, May 7, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
Colby Armstrong and Matt Hussey scored 20 seconds apart early in the third period to snap a scoreless tie and help lift the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phantoms in Game Three of the East Division Finals tonight at the Wachovia Arena.
Philadelphia still holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series thanks to a pair of 4-1 home wins on Wednesday and Friday. Game Four is set for Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre and Game Five will be played in Philadelphia on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.
Andy Chiodo, who suffered the loss in Game One, earned the win tonight by making 19 saves on 20 shots.
The Phantoms' Antero Niittymaki stopped 22-of-24 shots, while Patrick Sharp tallied the lone goal on the power play late in the third.
Following two scoreless but entertaining periods, Armstrong picked off an errant pass by Mike Richards in the Phantoms zone and placed a shot past Niittymaki at the 1:26 mark for his fourth goal of the postseason.
As the crowd was still cheering on the goal, Hussey took a feed from Ryan Whitney, skated around Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones and beat Niittymaki top shelf just 20 seconds later.
"Certainly, the start of the third period is what killed us," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "When you get down 2-0, they get energy and it seems like an uphill battle. We had our chances but we did a poor job of getting pucks to the net. They came in here and did a real good job checking, and didn't give us much room out there. You have to give them credit."
The score remained the same for the next 15 minutes until Wilkes-Barre was called for too many men on the ice. Twenty-one seconds later, Sharp scored his third playoff goal at 17:15 during a scramble in front of the net. Ryan Ready and John Slaney received assists on the play.
Niittymaki was pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute and former Phantom Guillaume Lefebvre sealed the win with an empty-netter with 12.4 seconds remaining.
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 ... Wilkes-Barre has not scored a goal during the first or second period this series ... The Phantoms are 9-8 all-time in Game Three of a playoff series ... The Penguins are 0-for-13 on the power play this series ... Philadelphia's penalty-killing unit is 49-for-52 this postseason.