ALLENTOWN — When Lehigh Valley scored a power play goal to put the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton down a goal in the first period, there was no panic.
No reason to change anything.
The Penguins just stayed the course, and a two-goal second period propelled them to a 4-1 win over the Phantoms on Friday.
Josh Archibald scored a shorthanded goal in the second period, Ryan Haggerty followed with the eventual game-winner and Tristan Jarry stopped 29 shots on the night. Assistant coach Chris Taylor, who was filling in for head coach Clark Donatelli, said every aspect of his team’s game was perfect.
“The talking on the bench, helping each other out, our line changes, it was one of those complete games that you couldn’t ask for more,” Taylor said.
With the win, the Penguins (42-17-3-0) gained some separation on the second-place Phantoms, who now trail Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by five points in the standings. The Penguins are also now 4-3 against the Phantoms with five more meetings against the Atlantic Division foe.
After the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal in the opening period, the Penguins answered back with a dominant showing in the second period.
“We didn’t sit back,” Archibald said. “We kept playing the way we were playing because it was working for us before (the power play goal).”
The Penguins outshot the Phantoms 15-8 and scored twice to take a 2-1 lead in the second period, led by Archibald and Haggerty.
With the Phantoms on their second power play, Teddy Blueger forced a turnover along the boards and fed a cross-ice pass to Archibald, who blasted a one-timer into the back of the net for a 1-1 tie. The goal was Archibald’s 15th of the season and fourth in his last six games.
Archibald said the goal was a turning point in the game.
“With the other team on the power play, for us to get a goal, it’s kind of demoralizing. They kind of go back to their bench feeling sorry for themselves,” he said.
Later in the period, Haggerty made a heads-up play when he scooped up a loose puck at the side and shot it behind Phantoms netminder Alex Lyon. The puck bounced off Lyon’s back and into the net for a 2-1 Penguins lead.
Jarry preserved the lead in the third period when the Phantoms went on a two-on-one rush with Chris Conner leading the way. Frank Corrado made it back to partially obstruct Conner’s shot and Jarry made the save.
Minutes later, Jarry made a save with the toe of his skate on a puck that rebounded off Sahir Gill’s stick and to the net.
“It’s a good thing he’s flexible,” Archibald said. “A huge save. He was on top of things all night long.”
The save prevented the Phantoms from gaining a 2-2 tie, and the Penguins later built a two-goal lead.
With a faceoff in the Phantoms end, Kevin Porter won the draw back to Kostopoulos, who promptly wristed a shot that beat Lyon inside the near post for a 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left.
Taylor said the faceoff win and goal couldn’t have been executed any better, and he credited Kostopoulos for pulling off the tough shot.
“A quick snap shot. That’s the reason why he played in the NHL for so long, because he has the release he has,” Taylor said.
The Penguins killed off a late Lehigh Valley power play with Jarry making several big stops, and Dominik Simon added an empty-net goal with 1:12 left to seal the win.
Next up is a rematch on Saturday back at Mohegan Sun Arena, and a chance to put the Phantoms even further behind in the standings.
“We can’t rest our laurels on this game here,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be a tough game coming back.”