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Charlotte Checkers Game Recap

Checkers Start Trip with Norfolk Loss

The Checkers got a one early goal and one late goal but not enough in between as they kicked off their four-game road trip with a 3-2 loss in Norfolk.

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.

Score Sheet
Charlotte’s power play, which entered the game ranked fourth in the AHL at 22.1 percent, ended up being a sore spot with an uncharacteristic 1-for-7 performance, though it came against the league’s No. 3 penalty killing team (86.9 percent). After starting the game with no goals on its first five opportunities, the Checkers, down 3-1 with 4:20 remaining in regulation, got a golden chance to tie the game with Norfolk’s Dave Steckel, a veteran of 425 NHL games who set up John Kurtz’s go-ahead goal in the second period, took a four-minute double minor for high sticking.

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.

NOTES

Murphy is just one shy of tying the longest point streak posted by a Checker this season (Chris Terry’s nine-game run in October). He has 10 assists over the course of his streak, has the most assists by a Checkers defenseman this season (14) and has 18 assists in 21 career AHL games … Zach Boychuk previously held the team record for longest assist streak (six games in December of 2012) … Matt Corrente has fought in each of his last three games. He was also the only Checkers player to post a positive plus/minus rating (+1) … The home team has won all six games between Charlotte and Norfolk … Admirals defenseman Sami Vatanen, who won a bronze medal with Finland in Sochi, did not play … Charlotte fell to 4-4-0 against Eastern Conference teams this season … Forwards Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods and goalie John Muse missed the game due to injury. Defenseman Keegan Lowe was a healthy extra.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.