Phantoms in virtual must-win territory in AHL playoffs

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Phantoms center Mike Vecchione, shown during a regular-season game, came close to scoring the winning overtime goal Sunday.

If the Phantoms are going win the Eastern Conference title and advance to the AHL’s Calder Cup finals, a victory over visiting Toronto on Wednesday is almost imperative.

Thanks to a pair of one-goal home wins, Toronto leads the best-of-seven series, two games to none.

Lehigh Valley, the Flyers’ top farm team, will host Games 3, 4, and (if necessary) 5. The games will be shown on NBC Sports Philadelphia+.

During the regular season, no team had more home wins than the Phantoms (27), and no team had more road victories than the Marlies (30).

The Phantoms have lost all four games (0-3-1) against the Marlies — two in the regular season and two in the playoffs.

Including the postseason, the Phantoms are a staggering 35-5-6 when scoring first. They are 5-1 in the playoffs when that happens.

Forwards Chris Conner (nine points) and Danick Martel (eight) have been the Phantoms’ top playoff producers, and Oskar Lindblom has chipped in with four goals. Conner and Lindblom are on the top line, centered by Phil Varone.

Goalie Alex Lyon has a 1.84 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage while compiling a 6-3 playoff record.

Carter Hart, 19, who is regarded as the Flyers’ goalie of the future, joined the Phantoms on Tuesday. Hart, however, is not expected to play in the playoffs.

Early in Sunday’s overtime, the Phantoms nearly evened the series, but Mike Vecchione’s shot caromed off the crossbar. About 10 minutes later, Toronto ended the game and took a 2-0 series lead.