|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Phantoms Blank Bruins 3-0 in Game Two of Eastern Conference Finals
Saturday, May 21, 2005
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
Antero Niittymaki stopped all 33 shots he faced tonight at the Wachovia Center as the Philadelphia Phantoms cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Providence Bruins and a two-games-to-none lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Philadelphia, which posted a 4-2 win in Game One on Friday, is now halfway toward advancing to the Calder Cup Finals as the series shifts to Providence on Monday for Game Three.
Niittymaki notched his second shutout of the postseason by making 10 saves in the first period, 14 in the second and nine in the final stanza. The 24-year-old netminder had registered six shutouts during the regular season.
"(Niittymaki's) been a consistent performer," said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. "It's hard to find fault in any game that he plays in. Sometimes there are breakdowns, but it just seems like every night he gives us a chance to win. He builds confidence in your team knowing that he's there. The guys want to play hard in front of him."
Rookie forwards Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger and Mike Richards all scored for the Phantoms, who improved to 8-0 at home during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs. Philadelphia has also won four games in a row overall.
Hannu Toivonen made 22 saves on 24 shots to suffer the loss for Providence, which also dropped both regular-season meetings with the Phantoms. Philadelphia has won the last seven match-ups overall between the clubs.
Philadelphia opened the scoring for the fourth straight game when Ryan Ready fed Carter from behind the net for a quick one-timer past Toivonen. Patrick Sharp also received an assist on Carter's team-leading 10th goal at the 7:02 mark of the first period.
Niittymaki stood tall in the second period when the Bruins held a 14-3 advantage in shots. The game then moved into the third period and Umberger quickly scored on a mini-breakaway to make it 2-0.
Ben Eager and Eric Meloche worked the puck to Umberger, who streaked into the Providence end alone and deposited his third playoff goal past Toivonen at the 29-second mark.
"We're a pretty deep team and that's why we're doing so well," said Umberger. "Not one line carried us all year. We rely on everybody and everybody is important from the first to the fourth line."
Richards capped the scoring with an empty-netter with 55.6 seconds remaining, tallying a goal for the fourth straight game. Captain Boyd Kane assisted on Richards' fifth goal of the playoffs.
Phantoms Notes: Joey Hope, David Printz, Charlie Cook, Mark Murphy, Todd Fedoruk and Tony Voce were scratched ... This was Philadelphia's seventh shutout in playoff history ... The Phantoms are a combined 12-2 this season when playing at the Wachovia Center ... Ready has a five-game point streak (1G, 6A) ... Richards has 11 points (5G, 6A) in his first seven professional games ... Philadelphia improved to 12-7 all-time in Game Two of a playoff series.