Monsters' defense stifles Phantoms, 4-2

Jan. 19—Monsters coach Trent Vogelhuber was not happy with the way his team played defensively the last half-dozen games, so they worked hard in practice to correct those flaws.

Lessons learned.

The Monsters were decisive in front of goalie Jet Greaves on Jan. 19. They scored twice on the power play and went 4-for-4 killing penalties to knock off the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 4-2, in front of 9,287 fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

"They (the Phantoms) are top-five in minors against and they have a top-five power play," Vogelhuber said. "Four or below is the amount of times we want to be in the penalty box. And then you have to win the special teams battle. That won the game for us tonight."

The Monsters, first in the AHL North, are 24-10-1-1. They lost three of four games before beating the Phantoms, and even in the game they won, they gave up five goals before beating the Toronto Marlies, 6-5, in overtime.

"I thought defensively we were pretty good," Vogelhuber said. "We worked a lot on that. I thought we had gotten loose over the last five or six games defensively.

"I thought we were a little bit rusty with the puck on our stick as far as execution goes. That went for both teams. That could be some ice conditions after not having the ice in for a while. So there's room for us to improve. But overall it was solid and obviously we got the two points, which was great."

The Phantoms scored first when the puck bounced off the end wall right to the blade of forward Samu Tuamaala, who flicked it past Greaves for his 12th goal of the season with 2:29 left in the first period.

Twelve seconds later, Luca Del Bel Belluz of the Monsters jumped on a loose puck in front of the net and beat Lehigh goalie Cal Peterson stickside to tie the game.

The Monsters took control with three goals in the second period — two of them on the power play.

James Malatesta broke toward the left post and took a perfect feed from defenseman Stanislav Svozil from the right circle. Malatesta took the puck on the forehand side of his blade, went to his backhand, back to his forehand and then tucked the puck behind Peterson's right pad and inside the left post 1:33 into the second period for a power=play goal. When Malatesta went to his backhand, Peterson started to slide to his left as though he expected Malatesta to pass the puck back to Svozil.

"It was a great play, a really good move," Vogelhuber said. "We talked this morning. (Malatesta) has been getting a lot of chances. He just hasn't capitalized.

"But when you're getting chances, you can't focus too much on the end result. Just keep doing what he's doing. He's going to find the back of the net eventually."

Malatesta made it 3-1 less than two minutes later. Jake Christiansen scored on the power play with 1:49 left in the middle period to finish off the Monsters' scoring.