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The Mask You Wear: Marlies, Phantoms Succumb to Defensive Woes in Shootout Thriller

#AHL | Defensive struggles haunted @TorontoMarlies and @LVPhantoms in Saturday’s game. The Phantom of the Opera is here with @FPHMarlies to break down the shootout decision:

The Mask You Wear: Marlies, Phantoms Succumb to Defensive Woes in Shootout Thriller

TORONTO – The Phantom of the opera is a film where the main character, Erik, tries to mask his face to save others from the horror of seeing it. Going into Saturday’s game, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms attempted to mask the horrors shown while playing the Atlantic Division. 

Their 10-11-1 record against the Atlantic Divison is scary but not as terrifying as their record against the North, which holds a 5-2-1 pace. 

While Corey Swartz can break down where they stand in the Atlantic, the only thing standing in their way was another masked Erik, Erik Källgren, whose American Hockey League record has been unsightly at 1-3-2.

The Phantoms were the first to get on the board early in the game, thanks to a smart, low shot, which left a juicy rebound for Olle Lycksell to tap in the rebound, gifted by a lack of Toronto defense.

Adam Ginning took a shot and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, the traffic ahead of Källgren seemed to skate by, making the shot seem much more harmless.

Masked by the traffic in front of the net, the Marlies’ 2nd place power play improved their stats with the 2-1. Logan Shaw’s initial shot was much like Ginning’s, harmless. But, thanks to a tip in front by Joey Anderson, it gave the Marlies a small amount of momentum to tuck in their pocket.

And who’s pocket was that tucked into? Andersons, of course! Seemingly, he had his office set up in front of the net for the first period, and that’s where he got his second. Cleaning up the rebound, his second of the night tied him for the team lead in goals with 13.

Some may remember it was nearly this time last year that Anderson had three goals, one of them being the overtime winner in a 4-3 final.

Heading into the second, Lehigh Valley knew the drill: Anderson had to be stopped, and momentum needed to be shifted to their sticks.

But they couldn’t stop him, and Andreson got yet another point thanks to his pass to Nick Abruzzese from post to post. On the power play, the slick pass came pad-level across Felix Sandstrom for a goal and the 3-2 lead.

Sixty seconds later, Artem Anisimov scored on a shot that squeaked through Källgren, who didn’t look to be gaining a breath of confidence while in goal.

Then, another two back-to-back goals.

First: Toronto’s Adam Gaudette with the power-play marker, thanks to a perfect seeing-eye pass from Joseph Blandisi. The shot, taken seemingly in slow-motion, as Gaudette received the pass in the slot and waited for the right time to rip a shot past Sandstrom.

Second: Anisimov hanging out in front of the net, wasted no time in cleaning up the rebound left to him to score his 12th of the year.

With a 4-4 tie going into the final intermission, the defense had to be prioritized, which may have been the underlying theme in the third. In a defensive chess match, both teams relayed the same message in the intermission: lock it down.

Without a goal in the third, it became a destined overtime game, where both teams had good opportunities to win. Ultimately, it took a shootout to end things.

With goals from Anderson and Gaudette, the Marlies took the final 5-4 in a game that showed improvement from all ends.

In short, it could have been a different result for both if their own end had been prioritized.

All I can say is this: if you’re going to play one side, you have to play the other, but hey, that’s the very mask they wear; that’s the Phantom of the Opera.

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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMarlies.

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