GLENS FALLS -- Matt Ford's world has turned upside down twice in the last two weeks.
First came the surprising trade that sent him from first-place Hershey to struggling Adirondack. Then he had to leave the Phantoms for several days and miss a game to deal with the death of his father-in-law.
Ford made his return on Friday night and once again made an immediate impact. He scored twice and the Phantoms played their strongest game in weeks as they beat Manchester 5-1 before a crowd of 4,079 at the Civic Center.
"It's been an emotional last two weeks. Tonight was an emotional game," Ford said. "It's tough, but at the same time it's nice to be back with the boys just focusing in on hockey. When I'm here, I have to be here. We've got to make a playoff push. That's my focus right now."
Ford has three goals in his five games since joining the Phantoms in a trade for defenseman Kevin Marshall. He has 12 total, the second-highest total on the team.
Ford, who took a leave after the Phantoms' game in Norfolk on Saturday, didn't practice all week. He made it back to Glens Falls in the early hours of Friday morning.
Just like his debut on Feb. 3 when he scored in a home victory over Norfolk, Ford didn't need much time to find his groove on the top line with Denis Hamel and Ben Holmstrom.
"It's mentally draining," Ford said. "I was out there this morning skating with the boys and my legs felt awful and I knew I was just going to have to grind it out. And to everybody else's credit, we played a good team game tonight."
That they did, even playing with one of their more depleted lineups of the season, including a defense with two ECHL call-ups.
Jason Bacashihua made 31 saves in his second sharp outing in a row. The Phantoms, who had lost four in a row and 10 of 12, looked like a different team offensively.
Brandon Manning had a goal, assist and a fight. Ben Holmstrom had three assists and Shane Harper and Garrett Roe also scored.
Adirondack had averaged fewer than two goals a game during their troublesome 12-game stretch.
"I saw a lot of guys going to the front of the net and getting dirty for those goals. That's how it's got to be," Bacashihua said. "We have to have two guys crashing the net looking for rebounds and willing to pay the price. We've got guys in the training room that are cut and iced. We need to see that. Whatever it takes to win. As bad as it (stinks) to walk away with 20 stitches or whatever, that's part of the game."
To say that the Phantoms are a different team at home is an understatement that doesn't even begin to paint the picture.
They haven't won a road game since before Christmas, a nine-game losing streak.
At home, they're 16-9-0-2, tied for best in the conference. Despite their recent troubles, they're 4-3 in their last seven home games.
"We'll bring our fans with us from here," Joe Paterson said. "Load up a bunch of buses, bring them all down."
Joking aside, everyone knows they need to be much better on the road to contend for a playoff berth. They trail the final spot by six points with 22 games remaining.
The next four games and six of seven are on the road.
Loose pucks: The Flyers assigned former AHL All-Star defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Phantoms on Thursday afternoon, but he didn't make it in time for the game. ... Paterson said Bacashihua will make the start in Saturday's game against Bridgeport.
Manchester (28-24-0-2) 0 1 0 - 1
Adirondack (23-24-2-1) 1 2 2 - 5
First period - 1, Adirondack, Manning 4 (Akeson, Holmstrom), 15:51 (PP); Penalties - Hudson, Mch (fighting), 1:53; Manning, Adk (fighting), 1:53; Hill, Mch (hold), 12:47; Roe, Adk (high stick), 12:47; Campbell, Mch (slash), 14:39; Voynov, Mch (hold), 15:10; Campbell, Mch (fighting), 16:53; Legein, Mch (rough), 16:53; Eddy, Adk (fighting), 16:53; Roe, Adk (rough), 16:53.
Second period - 2, Adirondack, Ford 12 (Holmstrom), :48; 3, Manchester, Kozun 14 (Hill), 11:09; 4, Adirondack, Harper 7 (Roe, Zolnierczyk), 16:00. Penalties - Harper, Adk (slash), 1:32; Thomas, Adk (cross-check), 5:19; Holmstrom, Adk (rough), 7:28; Vey, Mch (hook), 8:29; Brown, Adk (hook), 16:23; Clune, Mch (rough), 18:57; Eddy, Adk (rough), 18:57; Hill, Mch (hook), 19:32.
Third period - 5, Adirondack, Roe 7 (Zolnierczyk), 2:00; 6, Adirondack, Ford 13 (Holmstrom, Manning), 2:44. Penalties - Eddy, Adk (delay), 4:18; Czarnik, Mch (stick hold), 5:57; Campbell, Mch (high stick), 6:04; Clune, Mch (roughing, fighting, game misconduct), 10:38; Lauridsen, Adk (fight), 10:38; Deslauriers, Mch (cross-check), 17:14; Zolnierczyk, Adk (slash), 17:29.
Shots on goal - Manchester 8-11-13--32; Adirondack 12-14-5--31.
Power-play opportunities - Man. 0-6; Adir. 1-8.
Goalies - Manchester, Zatkoff (28 shots-23 saves); Jones (3-3). Adirondack, Bacashihua (32-31).
Referees - Hersey, Cozzan. A - 4,079.