One night after their offense carried them to a big win over Abbotsford, it was the Checkers’ goaltending that gave them the weekend sweep.
Justin Peters made a season-high 41 saves for his sixth shutout of the season as Charlotte topped Abbotsford by a 1-0 score on Saturday night for its fifth win in its last six games. The game’s only goal came off the stick of Checkers scoring leader Chris Terry, who netted a power-play goal with 4:26 remaining to seal the victory.
The Checkers, who beat Abbotsford 5-1 on Friday, now have eight team shutouts this season – more than any other AHL team. Peters now has sole possession of second place in AHL shutouts, extending his own single-season career high and his own team records for most shutouts in a single season and most all-time shutouts in a Checkers uniform (seven).
Peters, who has played in 15 of Charlotte’s last 18 games, saved his best work for a third period that saw the Heat out-shoot the Checkers 17-3. One of those saves may have been his best of the entire season, as he got some help from a big block by defenseman Bobby Raymond before denying the rebound opportunity by kicking out his leg as he lay sprawled in the crease.
Aside from his highlight-reel saves during a shot battle that the Heat won 41-22, Peters made the rest of the difficult ones look easy, swallowing up seemingly every shot that came his way without surrendering rebounds. He finished the two-game set against the Heat with 68 saves on 69 shots against.
The All-Star netminder was also part of another sparkling performance by the Checkers’ penalty kill. That unit followed up Friday’s 7-for-7 performance by killing all six Abbotsford power plays on Saturday, including two five-on-threes and a four-minute double minor for high sticking committed by defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani. Though they didn’t add to the two shorthanded goals they scored in the first meeting, they did come close via a pair of two-on-one opportunities that were denied by Heat goalie Leland Irving.
Terry was involved in both of those attempts, making it all the more fitting that he capitalized for the game’s only goal on the power play. With time winding down, Terry stepped into the lane and fired a quick shot through traffic that picked a corner over Irving’s right shoulder for his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
The goal was Terry’s seventh game-winning goal of the season, giving him sole possession of first place in the AHL in that category. It also marked the second time he has hit the 20-goal mark in his four AHL seasons.
The game marked the first time that the Heat, one of the AHL’s best defensive teams, held the Checkers to fewer than three goals in four meetings this season. Charlotte finished the season series with a 3-1-0 record, allowing them to tie the all-time series at four games apiece.
The Checkers now return to Charlotte for a few days before concluding their six-game road swing with a visit to Norfolk on Friday. They are currently 4-1-0 during the most recent stretch of consecutive road games, improving their record to 19-7-4 away from Time Warner Cable Arena this season.
Starting with their next home game on March 3, the Checkers will play 14 of their next 17 games in their own building.
Peters now has 13 career AHL shutouts … The Checkers are 13-for-31 on the power play (41.9 percent) in their last six road games … Charlotte’s three third-period shots tied the lowest amount the team has taken in any period this season … Terry had a game-high six shots on goal … The Checkers ended their February schedule with a record of 5-3-0 … Abbotford’s winless streak is now at seven games, which is its longest of the season and the longest active streak in the AHL … Justin Shugg assisted on Terry’s goal, extending his point streak to a team-high three games (1g, 3a) … Gragnani’s four-game assist streak came to an end … David Rutherford was a healthy scratch, while fellow forwards A.J. Jenks and Jerome Samson missed the game due to injury.
North Carolina Education Lottery Three Stars
1. Justin Peters
2. Leland Irving (Abbotsford)
3. Chris Terry