All of the attention from this one is going to go to the two-on-one, shorthanded breakaway that cost the Phantoms their third straight game in the final minute. But the reality of this three-game streak of heartbreakers is that the Phantoms haven't played well enough offensively to take the final minute out of the equation.
As Joe Paterson pointed out postgame, when you only score once a game, the margin of error becomes non-existent. Cullen Eddy's goal Friday snapped a 140-minute scoreless streak.
The Phantoms have only allowed five goals in their last two games, but have only scored three of their own. Too much of the burden is falling to Michael Leighton, who has stopped 92 of 97 shots over the last three games. Perhaps not surprisingly, as they're missing five of their regular defensemen, the Phantoms are spending a lot more time in their zone and not breaking out as cleanly. That ends up affecting the offense at the other end.
While the top line of Denis Hamel, Ben Holmstrom and Mike Testwuide continue to function well as a shutdown unit, they haven't provided much offense. Hamel has an empty-net goal in his last 13 games and Testwuide has an empty-netter in 21 games.
Now, about that final play. Thanks to the call-ups, the Phantoms had two rookies on the point on the power play, including one in just his third career game. A whole conflux of things went wrong. (Was I the only one, by the way, who thought Hamel was going to get called for interference before getting high-sticked to draw that last penalty?) It started with a terrific shotblock by Dean Arsene. At the same time the puck bounded out of the zone, Jason Akeson was sneaking in from the point, leaving a two-on-one the other way.
Brandon Manning, the only player deep, thought Hamel was going to get back and negate the two-on-one and played it that way. When he didn't, two Phantoms ended up on one guy and Portland made them pay with the game-winner.
But it really shouldn't have come to that.
-- Forward Andrew Rowe made his season debut.
-- A very minor issue kept Jason Bacashihua from dressing as the backup. Joe Paterson was aware of it on Thursday, but thought he'd be able to dress. Johan Backlund filled in.
-- Hamel played in his 800th AHL game.
-- The Phantoms haven't allowed a power-play goal in seven games. The streak is officially at 33. After going back and forth on this, the Phantoms actually get credit for two succesful kills in the Binghamton game because there was a major penalty involved in the second period that ended up being carved into three seperate power plays.
-- Thoughts go out to Binghamton forward Patrick Wiercioch, who suffered a very scary injury on Friday.
Lines: Hamel/Holmstrom/Testwuide; Harper/Kalinski/Sestito; McGinn/Akeson/Roe; Rowe/Brown/Klotz.
Defensive pairs: Eddy/Jancevski; Lauridsen/Kessel; Manning/Thomas.
Scratches: Pither (healthy), Bacashihua, Wellwood (upper-body), Bartulis (unknown).
On the final play:
"They blocked a shot. They blocked a shot off the half-wall from Denis Hamel and Jason started to slide down on the backdoor for a loose puck and they ended up with a two-on-one. It looked like Manning thought Denis Hamel was going to catch the one guy, he pointed to him and then moved over to play it like a one-on-one, it was still a two-on-one, and one of them made a pass back through."
On late losses:
"We're not scoring a lot. When you score one goal, and we scored one goal prior to that, things get magnified even more so. You can't make little mistakes until you're scoring more goals. You have to play a perfect type of game."
"You can't give up that kind of scoring chance, especially late, when you're within a point of moving on and then perhaps in overtime you have a chance to win it."
On offensive problems:
"I think it's overall play. Sometimes you think you should simplify it. I remember seeing some shots too where we put the puck right over the net, too. We had some misses. It doesn't count as a shot on net, you don't get a rebound off of it."
On Rowe's debut:
"I thought he was OK. I think that there were some times there were perhaps he would have maybe jumped on some pucks and broke wide and maybe gotten a better scoring opportunity. You can't expect a guy that's come back and missed months since training camp to be in top game shape."