Despite a healthy dose of adversity, the Checkers kept on rolling to yet another road victory.
Riley Nash scored with 34 seconds left in overtime and John Muse made 25 saves in his AHL season debut as Charlotte picked up a 2-1 win over Houston on Sunday night. The victory was the team’s fifth in as many games, tying a franchise record from its inaugural season in 2010-11. It also extended its point streak to six games, the third such streak it has posted this season.
Zac Dalpe also scored for the Checkers, who won three times in three nights for the third time in team history (22 attempts) and third time this season (five attempts).
The game marked the second consecutive overtime win for Charlotte, which topped Oklahoma City by a 4-3 score on Saturday. In between games, the Checkers, who were missing six players due to NHL recall and four more due to injury, endured a seven-hour bus ride that saw them arrive in Houston around 5 a.m. local time.
Nash, who opened the scoring against Oklahoma City one night earlier, sealed the victory when he skated into the zone, allowed Chris Terry to draw two defenders toward the goal and fired a wide-open wrister past Matt Hackett for his seventh goal of the season. The goal gave Nash six points (3g, 3a) in his last five games.
Defenseman Tommi Kivisto, one of eight players in the Checkers lineup that started the season in the ECHL, recorded his first professional point with the lone assist.
Nash’s goal came at the 4:26 mark of overtime, which was the exact same amount of time that had expired in the first period before Dalpe gave his team a 1-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season, finishing a great two-on-one setup with linemate Justin Shugg. The goal gave Dalpe nine points during an active five-game point streak.
Muse, one of five players recalled from the Florida Everblades on Saturday, improved to 12-3-2 all-time at the AHL level. The only goal against him came near the beginning of the second period, when Kris Foucault took control of a loose puck on an Aeros power play and fired it past Muse amid the confusion in front of goal.
Aside from that play, Muse was solid throughout, particularly during a flurry of activity late in the first period that produced a string of key saves.
The game featured a handful of minor penalties in the second period that culminated in a fight between Charlotte’s Brett Sutter and Houston’s Paul Mara as the teams were leaving the ice to head to their locker rooms. Mara, an NHL veteran who only recently joined the Aeros, received a game misconduct for leaving the bench to participate in an altercation.
The win gave Charlotte points in all five meetings with Houston this season (4-0-1), three of which went to overtime. The Checkers now enjoy a nine-point lead over their South Division rivals.
Having concluded a stretch of nine consecutive games away from Time Warner Cable Arena, the Checkers will now return home for a three-game set that includes back-to-back games against Grand Rapids on Wednesday and Thursday and a date with the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday.
The Checkers improved to 5-5 in overtime games this season, including a 3-2 mark in games decided during the five-minute period preceding the shootout … Nash took a game-high five shots on goal … Charlotte’s Matt Beca earned his first AHL point of the season and second of his career with the secondary assist on Dalpe’s goal … The Checkers were 0-for-4 on the power play after scoring four power-play goals in their previous two games … Forwards Nicolas Blanchard and Jerome Samson and defensemen Marc-Andre Gragnani and Rasmus Rissanen missed the game due to injury … Forwards Leigh Salters and Luke Pither, the latter of whom arrived via trade earlier in the day but had yet to join the team, were healthy scratches.
North Carolina Education Lottery Three Stars
1. Riley Nash
2. John Muse
3. Kris Foucault (Houston)