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Phantoms Post 5-3 Win Over Wilkes-Barre in Game Four of East Division Finals

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent

Jon Sim and Mike Richards each recorded a goal and an assist to lead the Philadelphia Phantoms to a 5-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight in Game Four of the East Division Finals.

With the win, the Phantoms assumed a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game Five is set for Friday at 7:05 p.m. in Philadelphia.

Antero Niittymaki stopped 26-of-29 shots for the Phantoms, who are trying to avenge last year's division finals loss to the Penguins in six games. Philadelphia also dropped six of 10 regular-season meetings with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

With the Phantoms nursing a 2-1 lead through two periods of play, Joni Pitkanen made it a two-goal game 2:49 into the third with a low drive from the far circle that beat Penguins goaltender Andy Chiodo.

Wilkes-Barre narrowed the margin to 3-2 at the 6:06 mark on Rob Scuderi's one-timer from the slot before Philadelphia tallied a pair of power-play goals to put the game away.

First, Ryan Ready found Patrick Sharp alone in front for a blast past Chiodo at 8:35. Then, in the latter stages of a high-sticking major on Wilkes-Barre's Tomas Surovy, Sim took a feed from John Slaney and tallied his fourth postseason goal at the 14:47 mark to make it 5-2.

Philadelphia is now 7-for-20 (35 percent) on the power play this series and Sim is tied for the league lead with four scores on the man advantage.

"Certainly the power play blew it open in the third period," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "This time of year, special teams is critical. You look at any level of play, special teams can be a factor, especially on the road. For us to get two power-play goals in the third was big for us."

Shane Endicott capped the scoring with a power-play goal with 2:51 remaining, while Chiodo finished with 21 saves on 26 shots.

Wilkes-Barre attempted seven of the games' first eight shots and had the early momentum until Philadelphia silenced the crowd with a shorthanded goal at 12:45 of the first period.

As teammate R.J. Umberger served a slashing minor, Ben Stafford gained possession in the neutral zone and fired a low line drive from just beyond the near circle. Chiodo stopped the shot, but the puck sat inside the crease on the rebound and Richards was able to swoop in and tally his second goal of the postseason.

"I think everyone played well tonight," said Richards, who has five points in his first four professional games. "The power play moved the puck around and we did what we had to do to win in a tough building."

The Phantoms doubled their lead to 2-0 at 5:55 of the second stanza during a 4-on-4 situation. After Stafford and Umberger controlled the puck deep in the Penguins zone, Umberger stole a clearing pass and lifted a shot over Chiodo's shoulder from between the circles for his second playoff goal.

"Things haven't been going my way lately so you've just got to start over and start working hard and playing defense, then bounces will go your way," said Umberger, who led the Phantoms in scoring during the regular season as a rookie. "I think we were as disciplined tonight as we have been all year. Hopefully we've learned and will keep doing that because it really paid off."

Wilkes-Barre made it a 2-1 game with 4:38 left in the second - just 25 seconds into a holding minor on Richards. Defenseman Ryan Whitney netted his second goal on a long wrister on the play, with assists going to Chris Kelleher and Kris Beech.

The goal was Wilkes-Barre's first in 17 power-play opportunities this series.

Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, David Printz, Dennis Seidenberg, Todd Fedoruk, Ben Eager and Tony Voce were scratched ... Richards' goal was Philadelphia's first shorthanded score of the playoffs ... The Penguins have not scored during the first period this series ... Philadelphia improved to 12-2 all-time in Game Four of a playoff series ... The Phantoms have had a different player tally the game-winning goal in their seven postseason victories ... Ready has six assists in his last seven games ... Philadelphia's five goals are a playoff high this year.

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