Knowing a win would be crucial in the first game of a three-in-three road trip, the Checkers (2-0-1) built a three-goal lead then hung on for a 4-3 win over Milwaukee on Friday evening.
Justin Peters made 22 saves for his second win of the season and Zach Boychuk continued his hot streak by scoring the game-winner early in the third period. Boychuk now has points in all three games this season and leads the Checkers with two goals and three assists.
Rookie Victor Rask opened the scoring midway through the first period when he redirected a pass from Jerome Samson for his first-ever professional goal. Checkers captain Brett Sutter picked up the other assist.
Minutes later, Milwaukee forward Mark Van Guilder beat Peters on the glove side but rang the puck off the post.
The score remained 1-0 through the halfway mark of the game thanks to big stops by Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith, including a right-pad save on Marc-Andre Gragnani on a 2-on-1.
Milwaukee then seemed to gain momentum off the play of their goaltender as Gabriel Bourque forced a giveaway at the side of the net and made it 1-1 with 7:42 to play in the second period.
Later in the period, Checkers rookie forward Jeremy Welsh was hit high and the Checkers went to work on the power play. Working with the man advantage, Drayson Bowman took a pass from Bobby Sanguinetti and fired a shot past Smith for the 2-1 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Sean Dolan made it 3-1 with a wraparound goal, his first of the season.
Boychuk then put the Checkers ahead by three when he capitalized on a turnover, broke in alone and beat Smith on the blocker side.
Milwaukee cut Charlotte’s lead to 4-2 with a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Patrick Cehlin midway through the third before Mattias Ekholm stuffed home a rebound to make it 4-3 with three minutes to play.
Peters would shut the door the rest of the way and hold on for a 4-3 victory.
The Checkers will now travel to Rockford for a two-game set against the IceHogs Saturday and Sunday.
Boychuk leads the Checkers with five points (2g, 3a) in three games... The Checkers have points in all three games this season (2-0-1)... Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti picked up two assists for his first multi-point game of the season... Charlotte has six games remaining on a nine-game trip to start the season and will play its home opener Nov. 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
1. Zach Boychuk
2. Gabriel Bourque (Milwaukee)
3. Jerome Samson