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Lehigh Valley Phantoms go down kicking and screaming, Toronto Marlies lead Eastern Conference Final 3-0

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At this rate, the Marlies should face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley cup Final

Trevor Moore streaking into the offensive zone
Credit: Christian Bonin

As Quinnipiac Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig famously said of his then Yale University counterpart, “well, you know, I’ve never lost to Alex Lyon.” Sam Prevot of the Blue Line Station was telling me this story as the Toronto Marlies defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 5-0 in game three of their Eastern Conference Final series. Andreas Johnsson, Carl Grundstrom, Mason Marchment, and Ben Smith all leave the rink with goals in the win. Garret Sparks also earned himself a 16-save shutout along with his ninth playoff win.

The Team

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson - Miro Aaltonen - Carl Grundstrom

Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Ben Smith

Pierre Engvall - Frederik Gauthier - Colin Greening

Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Trevor Moore

Defense

Travis Dermott - Timothy Liljegren

Martin Marincin - Justin Holl

Calle Rosen - Vincent LoVerde

Calvin Pickard suffered an illness in-between game two and three, so prospect Ian Scott backed up Garret Sparks on Wednesday night.

The Game

1-0

Barely a minute into the first game in Allentown, Johnsson pounces on a giveaway by Travis Sanheim and sets up Grundstrom for the game's opening goal. Aaltonen lost the initial faceoff in the offensive zone, but Johnsson hounded Sanheim all around the net, and with Aaltonen covering the far wall he was able to get the puck to an open Grundstrom in the middle. The first line for the Marlies strikes yet again, they have had five of the last eight Marlies goals in this series.

The Marlies spent the next stretch of the game defending two power plays. First to Dermott for holding after he pulled down a Lehigh Valley forward behind the net. The second penalty went to Dermott’s defense partner Liljegren for interference. That pairing has not shown their best stuff in this game so far, but they’re pretty much always good for one or two or ten great plays a game. No harm, no foul as the Toronto penalty killers were able to tick off the four minutes with relative ease, keeping the Phantoms to only three shots by the fifteenth-minute mark of the first.

The Marlies would get their own power play opportunity late in the first when Cole Bardreau got called for slashing. The power play wasn’t great in the offensive zone, but a misplay in the neutral zone by the Swedish PP unit led to Johnsson having to show off his elite stride. Johnsson was several paces away from big Phantoms defenseman Maxim Lamarche as he stole the puck and raced towards goalie Sparks, but was able to catch up to his man and steal the puck right from under Lamarche’s nose before he could even get a shot off. It was yet another example of a play from a player who should be a prominent NHLer yesterday.

After One

Second Period

2-0

The Phantoms came out of the first intermission flying, applying heavy pressure on the Marlies for the first five minutes. Unfortunately for them, the first line for the Marlies stepped on the ice. Aaltonen, Johnsson and Grundstrom created space using their fluid puck movement and positioning, opening up Johnsson for a bang-in goal from the side of Lyon’s net.

3-0

The Marlies kill the mood at the PPL Center just a little bit more when Brooks and Moore work together to steal the puck from the Phantoms top defensive pair and feed Marchment for not one, but two chances. Marchment made good on the latter.

As the period comes to an end, Mikhail Vorobyev gets called for slashing, allowing the Marlies to pull Sparks and ice six skaters until the Phantoms touch the puck. We all know this is a thing. Unfortunately, the referees don’t know this as they blow a potential scoring chance dead in the offensive zone because they think the Marlies have too many men on the ice! Head coach Sheldon Keefe pleads his case, but it is a fruitless effort and he is eventually forced to put Marchment in the box.

After Two

Third Period

The game had already gotten away from the Phantoms, but it got much worse when Marchment was cross-checked into the Lyon’s Den away from the play. The Marlies would score twice on the following power play. Oh, not for a cross-checking penalty, but an unsportsmanlike penalty by goaltender Lyon, who kicked Marchment in the gut while he was down.

Not only did it give the Marlies a five-minute power play — more than making up for the missed too many men call— but they also get to face Dustin Tokarski who is still wearing a mask featuring an Anaheim Mighty Duck for the rest of the game, and potentially Game 4.

4-0, 5-0

Captain Smith would get the best revenge on the Phantom’s backup netminder when he scored twice, sealing the game, and potentially the series.

One more game to go!

We’ll see you on Thursday night for Game 4 between these two teams. Puck drop will be a little after 7pm Eastern.