Not only did the Worcester Sharks see their losing streak extend to four games with a 4-0 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers) Friday night at the PPL Center, but the Sharks were also shut out for the second time in their last three games.
"We're just in a goal drought," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Jeff Moeller. "This is not a good time for this to happen. This is also not a good time to be a goaltender for Worcester because he is not getting enough support offensively.
"We need to break out of this soon. I hope we can. We need to be better on our five-on-five attack and we haven't been getting it done with our power play. We just have to score some goals."
The Phantoms, who were outshot 16-7 in the first period, took a 1-0 lead 1:44 into the game when forward Taylor Leier buried home a one-timer from in front of the left hash mark in the circle for his fourth goal of the season. At 11:25, Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg extended the lead to 2-0 when he beat Sharks goaltender J.P. Anderson with a slap shot from the left point off a Phantoms faceoff win in the Sharks zone for a shorthanded goal, his second goal of the season.
Just 90-seconds into the second period, Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning fired a drifting slap shot on net from the right point that hit off the skate of Sharks forward Travis Oleksuk, deflected off the shoulder of either Sharks defensemen Taylor Fedun or Dylan DeMelo and trickled up-and-over the glove of Anderson for Manning's fifth goal of the season.
Manning's goal ended the night for Anderson, who allowed three goals on 11 shots, as he was relieved for backup goaltender Aaron Dell, who saw his first action since being recalled from the Allen Americans of the ECHL on Nov. 11.
"At that point, we wanted to get him (Dell) some work," said Sommer of the goaltending change. "He looked good out there."
Any hopes the Sharks had of a comeback were quickly dashed at the start of the third period when Phantoms forward Andrew Gordon stole the puck from DeMelo on top of the right circle inside the Sharks zone and beat Dell glove side on a breakaway 59-seconds into the period for his fifth goal of the season.
Despite having a two-man advantage the final 1:49 of the game, the Sharks couldn't get the puck past Phantoms rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who made 36 saves for his first professional win and shutout.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 36-20 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill... Anderson is now 1-5-0 with a 3.39 goals-against-average and .880 save percentage... Dell made eight saves on nine shots in 38:30 of relief playing time... Sharks forward Micheal Haley had a game high 13 penalty minutes... The Sharks power play is now 9-for-71 on the season and has allowed four shorthanded goals... This was the second of four meetings between the Sharks and Phantoms this season... The Sharks are 1-1-0 against the Phantoms, 3-3-0 on the road and 8-7-1-0 with 17 points overall... The Sharks are back in action Sat night (Nov. 22) as they travel to take on the Hershey Bears at 7pm/et.
1. Anthony Stolarz - Phantoms (36 saves, Win)
2. Blair Jones - Phantoms (0-2-2)
3. Robert Hagg - Phantoms (1-1-2)
Tarasov / Tierney / Hamilton
Lerg (C) / Karlsson / Carpenter
Trupp / Oleksuk / Langlois
Haley (A) / Schwartz / Hayes
Taormina (A) / Tennyson
Fedun / DeMelo
Abeltshauser / Doherty