More than 41⁄2 periods into their first-round playoff series, the Philadelphia Phantoms finally solved Albany River Rats goaltender Michael Leighton.
It turned out to be the only goal they’d need.
The Phantoms struck twice in the second period, Jared Ross’ winner at 13:27 and Pete Zingoni’s backbreaker with 12.9 seconds left, and skated to a 3-0 victory Friday night at the Wachovia Center.
Goaltender Scott Munroe stopped all 18 shots he faced as Philadelphia evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Game 3 will be played here Sunday afternoon.
“The first period was about as good as you can go on the road,” Rats head coach-GM Tom Rowe said. “In the second and third, we definitely got too fancy. The guys know it.
“They made a couple lineup changes to give them a little more experience, and they played well. They were patient and they waited for their chances. I thought we just made it a little bit more difficult on ourselves than we needed to.”
Following a scorerless first period, Philadelphia was outshooting Albany, 16-10, when referee Jeff Smith handed Rats center Kiel McLeod a major penalty for high-sticking midway through the second.
“That helped them,” Rowe said. “I didn’t see it. I didn’t see blood. I don’t even know who it was. I guess it was a phantom cut, no pun intended.”
Fifty-six seconds later, the Phantoms believed they had cashed in during a scramble in front of Leighton. Ross had his open one-timer from the slot blocked by Leighton, but the puck popped up and behind him, landing in the crease. Mike Angelidis swept it away from the open net, but it wound up pinballing in the crowd and eventually slid across the goal line.
It took a few seconds for the red light to come on, and Smith had a long discussion with the goal judge before waving it off.
Ross got Philadelphia on the board, stepping into a Stefan Ruzicka pass in stride up left wing and cranking a slap shot off Leighton’s stick for a power-play goal, the Phantoms 23rd shot. Including Game 1, Leighton had stopped 62 straight shots in a shutout streak that lasted 93:27.
“The puck was rolling on him, so I tried to keep my body up more,” Leighton said. “When the puck’s rolling, shots are usually going to go high. He made a good shot, a couple inches off the ground.”
Zingoni, who did not play in
Game 1, made it a 2-0 game with time running down. He stripped the puck cleanly from Rats defenseman Bryan Rodney in front and surprised Leighton with a quick shot.
“That was a real big goal,” Phantoms coach Craig Berube said. “A one-nothing lead is nothing. Two-nothing is not even much. To get that goal right there was huge. Overall, I thought the effort was good.”
Zingoni was able to reach around as Rodney tried to kick the puck up to his stick in the edge of the left circle.
“It was more not being 100 percent sure I had control of the puck before I started moving my feet,” Rodney said. “It’s just a mistake I’ll make sure I don’t make again.”
Albany 0 0 0 — 0
Philadelphia 0 2 1 — 3
First period — None. Penalties — Gauthier, Phi (cross-checking), 4:23; Angelidis, Alb (hooking), 6:49; Ward, Alb (roughing), 16:31; Kane, Phi (roughing), 16:31.
Second period — 1, Philadelphia, Ross 1 (Ruzicka, Fitzpatrick), 13:27 (pp). 2, Philadelphia, Zingoni 1, 19:47. Penalties — Matsumoto, Phi (slashing), 5:47; McLeod, Alb major (high-sticking), 10:30; Ross, Phi (hooking), 14:50.
Third period — 3, Kane 1 (Ruzicka, Anderson), 18:56 (en). Penalties — Philadelphia, bench (too many men, served by Ruzicka), 11:01; Carson, Alb major (fighting), 20:00; Greentree, Phi major (fighting), 20:00.
Shots on goal — Albany 8-3-7 — 18. Philadelphia 14-14-12 — 40.
Goalies — Albany, Leighton 1-1 (39 shots-37 saves). Philadelphia, Munroe 1-1 (18-18).
Power-play opportunities — Albany 0 of 4. Philadelphia 1 of 4.
A — 5,374. T — 2:19.
Referee — Jeff Smith. Linesmen — Scott Pomento, Paul Carnathan.