The Belleville Senators continued their four-game homestand Saturday as they lost a tight affair to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) 4-2, on a last-minute penalty shot, despite an outstanding performance by Filip Gustavsson in the B-Sens goal.
It was Lehigh Valley’s only visit to Belleville of the 2018/19 season and their second game of a three-game Canadian road trip, with a Friday night overtime win in Laval and a matchup with the Marlies in Toronto on Sunday.
The Senators are now even at home against Lehigh Valley in their franchise history, with a win and a loss at CAA Arena.
They’ll return the favour with a visit to Allentown, Pennsylvania on December 14, as part of an eight game road trip.
Belleville opened the scoring for the second night in a row, just past the 3:00 mark, as Gabriel Gagné snapped a nine game pointless streak with just his second goal of the season.
Paul Carey created a turnover at the Phantoms’ line and Gagné scooped up the puck and fired a low wrist shot between the legs of Alex Lyon.
The Laval, Quebec native has struggled through the first quarter of the campaign after being named an all star last year and putting up 20 goals, spending at least three games this season as a healthy scratch.
The game took a physical turn through the rest of the period with a number of big hits, post-whistle scuffles and a scrap between Belleville’s Jonathan Racine and Lehigh Valley’s Tyrell Goulbourne.
The most exciting moment of the period came at almost 17:00 in when Filip Gustavsson, starting after a night off on Friday, dove across the crease to rob Greg Carey with the paddle of his goal stick, keeping the 1-0 lead intact to the end of the frame.
Gustavsson says he knew he was out of position on the play and was just trying to recover as best he could.
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) December 2, 2018
Belleville controlled the play through the early part of the second period and took a 2-0 lead 3:30 in, with Carey pouncing on a rebound at the side of the net for his third of the season.
But Lehigh Valley would end up tying the game later in the period, with a pair of similar looking goals off goalmouth scrambles.
Chris Conner banged one by Gustavsson at 12:28 and then Mike Vecchione would do the same at 15:53
The physical play continued as well, with both teams combining for 28 minutes in penalties through two periods of play.
Belleville had to kill off the remainder of one of those penalties to start the third, but did so successfully, before turning the momentum the other way with a flurry of shots on Lyon, but couldn’t break the tie early in the period
They’d also face a Phantom’s onslaught in the final five minutes, but Gustavsson continued to stand on his head and protect the tie into the final minute.
But with 13 seconds left, Conner would get tripped by Erik Burgdoerfer on a breakaway, leading to a penalty shot and Conner slipped it between Gustavsson’s legs to give the Phantoms the lead.
Taylor Leier, cousin of Belleville forward Boston Leier, would tack on an empty netter to seal it.
Senators Head Coach Troy Mann says it was a disappointing to let at least a point slip away.
The B-Sens have almost a week off of game action, as they prepare for three games in three nights next weekend Friday and Saturday at home against the Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens) and Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins), then Sunday in Toronto against the Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs).
Mann says he’ll give his team a couple of days off to reset before the busy stretch.
Highlights of Saturday nights’ game are available below and you can click here to see the box score.
You can hear all three games of next week’s road trip on 800 CJBQ for Eastern Overhead Doors and Deerhaven Farm and Garden.