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Phantoms Late Rally Tops Griffins 4-3
Offense can't overcome another off night by Howard...
By Jason Kasiorek

True to form lately, starter Jimmy Howard followed up two straight strong performances with a stinker, as an apparent lack of focus was his undoing. The visiting Phantoms were able to score a couple of soft goals to stay in the game despite being badly out-chanced and won the game in overtime on a weak shot from the corner that wouldn't have cut paper. Francis Pare scored his 12th of the season while Garrett Stafford (5) and Mattias Ritola (13) added powerplay markers. Formers Griffins camp tryout Jeff Szwez scored two goals for the Phantoms and dropped the gloves in the first period with Aaron Downey.

Downey and Szwez had a spirited bout early with Downey getting the easy decision. Later in the period Laliberte jumped Oulahen who covered up until order was restored. On the ensuing powerplay Howard came out of the net to play a clearing attempt along the boards and lost the puck. Matsumoto the forechecker picked up the loose puck and easily deposited it into the empty net for a shorthanded goal. The Griffins recovered, and less than five minutes later Frankie Pare picked up a loose puck in front and flicked it over Teslak to tie the score. Real physical pace to the game with lots of hitting. Shots on Goal: GR 16 - Phi 9.

Philadelphia took the lead again early in the second, Szwez was in the slot and picked up a rebound in front of Howard which he stroked past Jimmy stick-side. The phantoms penalty killing unit got a workout in the second with five straight penalties including a 5-on-3, but they had as many good chances on our PP as we did. Garrett Stafford tied the game up on that 5-on-3 advantage, letting a shot go from the high slot that just found its way in under the crossbar. Still on the powerplay, the Griffins executed a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play: Stafford to Abdelkader to Leino who slid it across the crease to Ritola for a back door tap in and the lead. An announcement was made to the arena crowd that Jimmy Howard had just passed Joey MacDonald for the franchise lead in minutes played. A helmetless Darren Helm had a gerat chance to extend the lead when he rocketed down the ice two-on-one and blew a shot off the crossbar - just missed. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Phi 9.

Jeff Szwez struck again for philadelphia in the third to tie the game. The phantoms forward bulled his way past a GR defender and got off an easy shot that apparently surprised Howard, as he didn't even react until it was in the net. The Phantoms seemed to rise up after this goal and started to outplay the griffins for the first time. Gr looked deflated as the clock ran down on the period. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Phi 11.

The OT was all Philadelphia and about halfway through, Laliberte let a weak dribbler of a shot go from the circle that beat Howard, who again appeared to be surprised by the puck and didn't react until it was by him. The phantoms escape with two points they shouldn't have gotten. Shots on Goal: GR 1 - Phi 5. For the Game: GR 41 - Phi 34.

Leino - Abdelkader - Downey
Oulahen - Helm - Mursak
Lemieux - Pare - McGrath
Ritola - Emmerton - Haydar

Pyett - Ericsson
Stafford - Jozsa
Kindl - Galvin

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larsson

Atherton - Knee

Lemieux - Pare - McGrath
Kindl - Haydar

Ritola - Abdelkader - Leino
Ericsson - Stafford

Oulahen - Helm - Mursak

Oulahen - Mursak/Ritola
Ericsson - Stafford

Helm - Abdelkader/Oulahen
Kindl - Galvin

Leino/Lemieux - Abdlekader


Jan Mursak displayed his great wheels in some rare penalty killing work, and is probably second only to helm in terms of speed.

Abdelkader was very noticeable all night and had lots of jump. He just missed converting a couple of scoring chances on the doorstep and did a great job moving the puck into the phantoms zone.

A big thumbs up to Jonathan Ericsson who played with some intensity. Ericsson had a strong game, and seemed to go back to his old form, moving the puck and playing physical defense. Hopefully this means he has turned the corner.

Ryan Oulahen was also very noticeable and seemed to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was very gritty and chippy, and went out of his way to make contact with opposing players all game.

Insert Jimmy Howard criticism here. I don't know what else to say, he was not sharp, and three of those goals were weak. You could see the teams composure change with each one. End of Howard criticism.

Coach Fraser changed things up on the PP late in the game, moving Haydar from the point back up front, recognizing that the phantoms had way to many dangerous shorthanded chances.

I thought the Leino - Abdelkader - Downey line played a fairly good game despite being on the ice for so many goals against.

Tonights rematch with Larsson in the net should be fun to watch as the intensity level should ramp up a notch.

Official Game Sheet