The NHL Network today aired a special American Hockey League game featuring the Binghamton Devils at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The Devils fell by a score of 5-3 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I figured I would give a little bit of a recap here on the blog since it was Devils related.
The game was a lot closer than the score looked, as the Phantoms took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute left in the game and then added an empty netter to top things off.
Lehigh Valley got the scoring kicked off when Cole Bardreau scored at 3:19 into the first period with assists to James de Haas and Radel Fazleev. Nick Lappin tied things up from Steven Santini and Kevin Rooney at 6:08. That made it 1-1 going into the first intermission.
That first period was played penalty free, which would not be the case later in the game, as both teams beat a path to the penalty box throughout the final two periods. The thing was, both team’s power play units would respond and put the puck in the net when they had to.
It started when Philippe Myers took a tripping call at 7:42 of the second. John Quenneville converted on that one at 9:41 from Jacob MacDonald and Christoph Bertschy. That was Quenneville’s eleventh AHL goal of the year and put Binghamton up 2-1.
The Devils, however, would take a penalty when Jan Mandat went off for tripping at 10:10. Three seconds into that penalty kill, Josh Jacobs of the Devils would go off for high sticking, giving Lehigh Valley a 5-on-3 man advantage.
Will O’Neill of the Phantoms would oblige on that one, scoring from Myers and Danick Martel at 11:56. The game was now tied up at two and that is where it would stand going into the second break.
A rare, at this point, even strength goal was scored 8:02 into the third period when Lehigh Valley’s Mikhail Vorobyev notched his eighth of the year from Reece Willcox and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to put the Phantoms up 3-2.
But this game was so back-and-forth that things would not remain that way for very long. At 13:07, Aube-Kubel was called for boarding, putting the Devils on the power play. Lappin would score his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage, getting assists from MacDonald and Bertschy and tying things at three.
That was where it would stay until, with 59 seconds left in the game, and things seemingly headed to overtime, Mike Vecchione was the hero for Lehigh Valley. He scored from Colin McDonald and Willcox to put the Phantoms up 4-3.
That goal was reviewed to see if the puck was kicked in by Vecchione, but the replay confirmed the call on the ice: it was a good goal. Lehigh Valley had the lead and the Devils quickly pulled their goaltender, Eddie Lack, for the extra attacker with about 45 seconds left in the contest.
The Phantoms added an empty net goal from Phil Varone (assists to McDonald and Bardreau) at 19:53 and that was all she wrote at 5-3.
Binghamton got good goaltending from Lack, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots against. Lehigh Valley also had the empty netter, making their shot total 28 for the game. The Phantoms’ Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves on 26 shots.
On the power play, the Devils were a perfect 2-for-2 while Lehigh Valley was 1-for-4.
Lappin, with his two goals and four shots on goal (which led Binghamton) was awarded the second star of the game. Jacob MacDonald of the Devils also had two points (both assists), as did Christoph Bertschy.
This game was a battle of two teams going in two different directions. Lehigh Valley is looking for their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth while Binghamton has been struggling in their first season in their new surroundings. They relocated this past offseason from Albany to Binghamton, where they replaced the Binghamton Senators – who moved to Belleville, Ontario.
The Devils are in sixth place in the seven team North Division while the Phantoms stand at first place overall in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms actually have more points than the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, but Toronto has four games in hand and has already clinched a playoff spot in the North Division despite that.