GLENS FALLS -- The Adirondack Phantoms' defensive situation was so dire Saturday afternoon, they signed a rookie off the street to play. They filled another defenseman slot with a guy who played forward most of the season.
Turns out, there was nothing to worry about as long as they still had Michael Leighton and a suddenly resurgent offense.
Down two of their top defensemen against a streaking Syracuse club, the Phantoms responded with a 3-0 win in front of a crowd of 3,534 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Michael Leighton stopped 25 shots for his fourth shutout of the season and 33rd of his career in the American Hockey League.
Leighton is sixth all-time in the AHL in shutouts and has the most since 1974. Leighton said he feels in the same form as he did last spring when he played in the Stanley Cup Finals with Philadelphia.
"I feel good right now. I have confidence. The body is going good," Leighton said. "Just finish off this year and see what happens from there."
Leighton, whose jersey went at an auction-high $1,000 in a postgame event, lowered his goals-against average to 2.30 in 29 games with the Phantoms. That's more than a goal a game better than any goalie who played more than 10 games here.
"Having him behind you, you can always rely on him," said defenseman Kevin Marshall. "Right now, (Leighton), it's unbelievable how confident he is with the puck."
Making the defensive performance all the more impressive, Syracuse came into the game as one of the league's hottest teams.
The Crunch had won five in a row and eight of nine. They were averaging five goals a game during the course of their win streak.
With Danny Syvret called up to the Flyers and Dan Jancevski out with an illness, the Phantoms signed rookie defenseman Mike Matczak to a professional tryout contract. J.P. Testwuide returned to defense after more than two months at forward.
The patchwork unit came together just fine, holding Syracuse to 25 shots.
"Defensively, we were great tonight," Marshall said. "Everybody was playing as a unit of five. The center support was unbelievable. Our forwards did a good job to be an outlet for us. All we had to do was put it on the tape. It makes life easier when you let the puck do the work."
They even got into the act offensively, something perhaps not expected from the defensemen with Syvret not in the lineup.
Marshall scored on a point shot to make it 2-0 in the second period less than a minute after Eric Wellwood's power-play goal opened the scoring.
"When you play with a guy like Syvret who has a vision like no one else - it's unbelievable how that kid has vision - every game you learn a lot. I tried to use it tonight," Marshall said.
Then J.P. Testwuide made a deft move to skate past several defenders and set up Matt Read for a blistering shot to make it 3-0. Read has four goals in his first six professional games.
A night after scoring six goals in the second period en-route to trying a franchise record with nine in a game, the Phantoms scored three in the second.
The passes where crisp, the movement unselfish and the skating sharp. Even the much-maligned power-play has come alive. The Phantoms have six power-play goals in the last three games.
The Phantoms finished the season series 7-1 against Syracuse.
The Phantoms have won five in a row on home ice and eight of their last 10. They trail Albany by one point and Syracuse by five in the race to get out of last place in the East Division.
"We know we're out of playoffs, we all know that," Marshall said. "But we're hockey players like everybody else. We play because we like the game, we play because we have fans who show up at every game here. We play for the team, for ourselves, for the guy next to each other."
Loose pucks: Zac Rinaldo was scratched with a minor injury ... Stefan Legein returned to the lineup after missing the last game with an illness that's going through the locker room.
Syracuse (32-36-3-4) 0 0 0 - 0
Adirondack (28-37-4-6) 0 3 0 - 3
First period - none. Penalties - Hamel, Adk (misconduct), 4:31; J.P. Testwuide, Adk (tripping), 4:31; Mitera, Syr (tripping), 11:56; Bourdon, Adk (holding), 17:52.
Second period - 1, Adirondack, Wellwood 16 (Pither, M. Testwuide), 12:31 (pp); 2, Adirondack, Marshall 3 (Kalinski, Bourdon), 13:24. 3, Adirondack, Read 4 (J.P. Testwuide), Penalties - Green, Syr (cross-checking), 7:25; Lampe, Syr (hooking), 10:54; Kurtz, Syr (roughing, fighting), 19:00; J.P. Testwuide Adk (fighting), 19:00.
Third period - none. Penalties - Green, Syr (interference), 2:08; Guenin, Syr (boarding), 3:52; Deschamps, Syr (elbowing), 4:53; Holmstrom, Adk (tripping), 5:39; Schofield, Syr (tripping), 8:46; Zolnierczyk, Adk (tripping), 9:17; Maroon Syr (fighting), 14:13; Zolnierczyk, Adk (fighting), 14:13.
Shots on goal - Syracuse 8-10-7-25; Adirondack 12-13-11-36.
Power-play opportunities - Syracuse 0 / 4; Adirondack 1 / 8.
Goalies - Syracuse, Levasseur 13-23-3 (36 shots-33 saves); Adirondack, Leighton 13-12-3 (25 shots-25 saves).
Referees - Croft, Fraser.
A - 3,534.