Phantoms 3, Devils 2 (SO) 1/20
In Danny Syvret's first seven seasons in the American Hockey League, the defenseman was used in all of five shootouts, going 0-for-5 in those attempts.
This season, he's been used in three shootouts and has three game-clinchers.
That includes today. With the Phantoms leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth and final round, Syvret took the puck from the center dot, skated in on goalie Keith Kinkaid and rifled home a shot from between the circles. Ballgame.
It doesn't technically count as the game-winner because the Phantoms won the shootout 3-1, so Tye McGinn's goal in the third round gets that distinction, but it did end the game and give the Phantoms their second win against Albany in six tries this season. The Devils had won the past three meetings.
What was different today? For starters, the Phantoms got pucks to the net throughout the game, not just in the final 20 minutes. They had 12 shots in the first period, which is more than they had through 40 minutes Friday night. And they took a lead on a play that wasn't even going to be a shot.
Jason Akeson sped down the right wing and centered to McGinn, but the puck hit Albany defenseman Alexander Urbom and bounced behind Kinkaid for a power play goal late in the first.
Akeson had himself a game, adding an assist and a shootout tally. Did you know that he leads all Phantoms and Devils with six points in the season series between the two teams? That's pretty impressive, considering he missed three meetings when he began the season in the ECHL.
In addition to marking the halfway point of the 12-game rivalry series, Sunday's game also marked the halfway point of the 78-game regular season. The Phantoms concluded the first half with back-to-back wins and a 17-19-1-1 record, six points out of a very-much-attainable playoff spot.
We've talked about other players needing to step up their game in the second half of the season if the Phantoms are serious about making that playoff push. One of those guys got a jump on it Sunday.
Marcel Noebels also scored in regulation for the Phantoms, giving him three goals in his past four games. This time, late in the third period, Akeson sped down the other wing and his centering feed found its way past defensemen and Noebels banged it home during a four-on-four.
Albany erased one goal deficits by basically mirroring the manner in which the Phantoms scored.
First, Phil DeSimone scored on a power-play in the second period after Syvret and Rob Bordson got caught on the ice for the entire 61-second duration of Oliver Lauridsen's slashing minor. That made it 1-1. Jay Leach scored on a four-on-four with 2:21 left in the third period to force the shootout on a bad-angle shot from near the goal line. The AHLLive feed was awful today and I didn't get a good look at how that in, but if it was one that Cal Heeter wanted back the goalie more than made up for it.
He stopped all five Albany shots he faced in overtime and then 3-of-4 in the shootout. Matt Anderson beat him with a great shot over his glove, but he turned aside DeSimone, Mike Sislo and Steve Zalewski. Interestingly, each of Heeter's past three wins have come in either overtime or a shootout. Albany, meanwhile, fell to 0-8 in shootouts, which is the worst in the American Hockey League.
Akeson and McGinn's shootout goals were on nifty forehand-backhand moves. Really showed what McGinn can do with his hands when he gets the opportunity. Speaking of an opportunity for McGinn, winger Zac Rinaldo left today's Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 loss in Buffalo with what club general manager Paul Holmgren said was a lower-body injury, according to the Flyers' official Twitter feed.
NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said on the network's telecast of the game Rinaldo was cut with a skate.
After tonight's game, check out some of the messages that started popping up on Twitter.
Former teammate Luke Pither, a current teammate in Lauridsen, and then his brother Jamie McGinn. Seems like Tye McGinn could be on his way to Philadelphia, though no official roster move has been announced. The Flyers aren't practicing tomorrow and neither are the Phantoms, so they really don't have to make any official transaction until Tuesday. That may allow them to save on some cap space.
I suppose it may also depend on the severity of the Rinaldo injury. Yes, Philadelphia has two reserve forwards in Tom Sestito and Jody Shelley. But if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...
The Phantoms had captain Ben Holmstrom, who was rehabbing his knee in Voorhees, N.J., on today's intermission report. I'll have some highlights from that in a blog post that will be up later tonight. You'll remember he tied last year's Outdoor Classic against the Hershey Bears before Shane Harper won it in overtime. Well, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Riley Holzapfel played the role of Holmstrom and Paul Thompson pulled a Harper in this afternoon's Outdoor Classic victory at Hersheypark Stadium.
Until next time,