The Phantoms power play really came together Wednesday night. With the addition of Jason Akeson to the team, Terry Murry opted for four forwards on the first shift of the power play and it paid off with three goals.
Friday night, the power play continued to look strong in a 2-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals.
The Phantoms had one power-play goal in the game (out of four chances) and looked good throughout. The goal came 1:23 into the second period. Erik Gustafsson, the lone defenseman, fed Sean Couturier outside the right faceoff dot and he fired it past goaltender Frederik Andersen on the far side.
Twice in the game, the Phantoms went on the power play down one of the their four forwards on the first shift (both Tye McGinn and Brayden Schenn took fighting majors in the game). Still, Murray stuck with the four-forward approach. He inserted Garrett Roe for Schenn and Ben Holmstrom for McGinn, both of whom are on the second shift.
It's interesting that Murray kept with the four-forward shift, while the second shift is a traditional three-forward set up, even when down one of those players. But the Phantoms figure if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
"It's an adjustment that we made, having (Couturier) up top and he has a great shot. Just spread it out a little bit more and I think it's been working for us so we'll keep with it," Schenn said."
"We feel more confident, we feel we have more offense," Couturier said. "So far, we'e doing a good job just moving the puck quick and putting pucks on net and again tonight, we capitalized with a big goal."
The use of Homstrom was a little curious in that he does not play the same role that McGinn does on the second shift. McGinn plants himself in front of the net and "takes the goaltender's eyes." Murray has praised his performance and attitude in that role throughout the season. On the second shift, Zac Rinaldo plays that role. Yet, it was Holmstrom that Murray put out with the first shift in McGinn's absence.
Holmstrom did well in the role, almost scoring a goal. He fired off a shot and jumped on the rebound, taking a kind of choppy shot as he went to the ice that hit the far post. Schenn grabbed the second rebound, but his shot sailed high.
Midway through the second period, the Phantoms had back-to-back power plays. Holmstrom and Schenn each almost scored in the aforementioned play in the first power play. The second may have been even stronger. Even after the penalty expired, the Phantoms maintained pressure, looking like they still had the man advantage. It was almost another minute before Norfolk finally cleared the puck.