After a one-game stint with Carolina, Checkers scoring leader Aaron Palushaj is returning to Charlotte.
Palushaj, 24, played in the Hurricanes’ 3-0 loss in Montreal on Tuesday, spelling veteran forward Radek Dovrak as the team played the second of back-to-back games with travel involved. It was Palushaj’s second single-game stint of the year, having also played in the Hurricanes’ Jan. 5 game against Nashville.
Now in his first year with the organization, Palushaj has played a total of 68 NHL games with Montreal, Colorado and Carolina, scoring 14 points (3g, 11a).
The timing of his first recall and the postponement of the Checkers’ scheduled Tuesday game against Norfolk mean that Palushaj has yet to miss an AHL game this season. Along with Mark Flood, Victor Rask and Justin Shugg, he remains one of four players to play in all 41 of Charlotte’s games.
Palushaj should return with plenty of time to spare before the team departs for a four-game road trip to play Lake Erie and Abbotsford twice apiece. He does so with an active seven-game scoring streak at the AHL level, having registered 11 points during that span. That streak marks the second-longest posted by a Checker this season (Chris Terry began the season with points in nine straight games) and the second longest of his career (an eight-game run in Hamilton to start the 2010-11 campaign).
Dating back to Dec. 10, Palushaj has points in 16 of his last 18 AHL games (9g, 16a), helping him earn the recall in the first place.
“(Recalling Palushaj) was their call,” coach Jeff Daniels of the Hurricanes on Wednesday morning, prior to the reassignment of Palushaj. “They watch the games and they know what’s going on. He played well in that one game up top when he was there (on Jan. 5) and obviously he’s been a big part of our success over the last month and a half. He earned it.”
With Daniels saying that Brendan Woods was available to play the postponed Tuesday night game against Norfolk, the Checkers are on schedule to have a healthy extra at the forward position for the first time since Nov. 30, an ideal situation for a trip that will mark their longest of the season in terms of distance traveled.
The Checkers also have an extra on defense, with Keegan Lowe sitting out the team’s last game to make way for the arrival of Ryan Murphy. Prior to that, the team had sent Beau Schmitz to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.
“Obviously it was going to be hard to get two extra guys in, but Keegan will be able to get in because it will be easier to get one guy in instead of two,” said Daniels. “They’ve got to play, and it’s no different than Ryan Murphy coming down here because he has to play. Beau was playing extremely hard and practiced hard but he needs to keep playing so he can keep feeling good about his game.”
- Written by Paul Branecky