With one week left in the AHL regular season, the Phantoms find themselves within reach of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Adirondack sits in 10th with 76 points, which is one less than both the eighth place Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate) and ninth place Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes). The Monarchs have a Game in Hand over both the Phantoms and Pirates, as Adirondack finishes the 2011-2012 season with a pair of home games.
To start the week, the Phantoms beat the Albany Devils (New Jersey) 3-2 on Friday in Adirondack. As they entered the third period down 2-1, the Phantoms received Matt Ford’s 26th of the season at the 7:06 mark and saw Denis Hamel score 6:32 later for the game-winner. Michael Leighton was in net for Adirondack, as he stopped 32 of 34 for the win and made three more saves than his counterpart Keith Kinkaid. Cullen Eddy ended a 39-game goal drought with his second of 2011-2012 at the 7:03 mark of the opening stanza to give Adirondack an early 1-0 lead.
Both of Albany’s goals came in the second period off of tallies from Steve Zalewski and Kory Nagy. All three of Adirondack’s goals came on the power play, as their man advantage converted on three of nine opportunities in their sixth win of the season against the Devils. The victory improved the Phantoms to 19-17 one-goal games in 2011-2012, as Adirondack won their fourth straight contest at home.
The Phantoms completed their sweep of the home-and-home with the Devils the next day, as they won a 5-3 affair in Albany. Ford increased his goal total to 29, as his hat-trick fueled Adirondack to victory and featured the game-winning tally at the 9:53 mark of the final period.
Hamel had two assists for a multi-point tilt, as Leighton made 37 saves in the Phantoms’ sixth win in their last eight contests. Mike Testwuide snapped a 10-game goal drought with an empty-net tally with four seconds left in the game. Adirondack was two-for-four on the power play, which featured a tally on Tim Sestito’s five-minute major for charging at the end of the first period, while Albany failed to convert on a single one of their seven man advantages in the loss. Devils’ goalie Jeff Frazee tied a season-low for saves in a loss with 16, as Albany lost their fourth straight contest. The win was the Phantoms’ fourth straight against the Devils and their fifth in their last six games against Albany.
Yesterday, the Phantoms dropped a 4-2 decision to the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) at home. David Leggio set a season-high for saves in a win with 46 on the Phantoms’ 48 shots in the contest, as Alex Biega recorded his first game-winning goal in the AHL with his fifth of the season at the 15:21 mark of the final stanza. Tyler Brown ended a 19-game goal drought with his eighth of the year, while Tye McGinn potted his 11th with 38 seconds left in the second period. Oskars Bartulis was the lone Phantom to finish the game with a plus rating, as the d-man finished plus-1 while 10 of his teammates finished with a minus rating. Hamel led all Phantoms with seven shots on net, while four other Adirondack players (Garrett Roe, McGinn, Ford, and Brandon Manning) had five shots on net in the loss. The defeat was the Phantoms’ 17th multi-goal game loss on the road.
Harry Zolnierczyk was the only Phantom to be both recalled to the Flyers’ roster and assigned back to the AHL this week. In his lone game with the Flyers, Zolnierczyk had an assist and seven PIMs, while he didn’t dress for a single game with Adirondack.
Jason Bacashihua was also returned to the Phantoms from the Flyers this week, but he didn’t see the ice with Adirondack either.
Recently signed Matt Mangene made his AHL debut with three contests this week for the Phantoms. He had two shots overall.
The Phantoms start their final week of the regular season with their final road game, which is a contest on Friday against the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets). After they return home and host the Worcester Sharks (San Jose) on Saturday, Adirondack finished the season against the Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning).