Philippe Cornet and Brett Sutter scored for the Checkers, who got 21 saves from Justin Peters in the second start of his NHL conditioning stint. Ryan Murphy had helpers on both goals to extend his assist streak to eight games, tying the longest posted by an AHL player this season and extending the franchise record.
The Checkers are now 0-2-1 to start their franchise-record run of 10 consecutive road games that continues with a back-to-back set in Hershey starting Saturday. Charlotte, which had won each of its last four games against Norfolk, now has an 8-6 lead in the race for the GEICO Challenge Cup, which is awarded to the team with the most head-to-head points in the season series that still has two games remaining, including a rematch in Norfolk next Wednesday.
Chris Terry provided the start they would need to that man advantage with a shot from the point that hit Sutter’s leg and redirected past Viktor Fasth, who won the battle of NHL goalies on conditioning stints with 22 saves. The goal with 3:22 remaining came early enough to give the Checkers a full two minutes yet to work with, but the tying goal did not come.
In a tightly-played game that came close to Checkers season records in terms of fewest shots taken and allowed (24 apiece), it was somewhat misleading that Cornet was able to find the back of the net just 1:35 into the contest on a shot from the left point that beat Fasth to the blocker side. That was one of just five shots that Charlotte took in the period despite playing five and a half minutes on the man advantage.
Sandwiched between the goals by Cornet and Sutter, the Admirals scored three unanswered through Antoine Laganiere, who redirected Alex Grant’s slap pass in the slot, Kurtz and Rickard Rakell, whose shot beat Peters through traffic early in the third. Rakell’s goal was something of a dagger, as it came just 22 seconds into a power play that followed a Charlotte man advantage that produced little to no offense and ended prematurely due to Justin Shugg’s holding infraction.
With the loss, Charlotte is now winless in each of its last five road games since Feb. 4 (0-4-1), which marks the second-longest active streak in the league. The team remains seven points out of a playoff spot with 23 games yet to play.