One night after handing Milwaukee a rare road regulation loss, the Checkers will look to do the same while further padding their Midwest Division lead.
In the first game of the back-to-back set against the Admirals (10-5-1) on Saturday, Charlotte (12-6-2) became the first team to beat Milwaukee outside of its own building since Jan. 13, 2011, which was good for an AHL-record 23-game stretch. They also increased the standings lead over their divisional rivals to five points while evening the season series at one game apiece.
The Checkers have now won three straight games while improving their home record to 6-1-1. Sunday’s matinee marks the second of the Checkers’ six-game home stand that will continue Wednesday against Texas.
For the second consecutive home victory, Checkers coach Jeff Daniels was critical of his team’s performance, noting that his team was out-worked and out-skated by the Admirals and was “lucky” to get away with two points.
Outside of a two-goal performance by Zach Boychuk, who now has six goals in nine AHL games this season, he may have had a point. The score could have been different if not for the performance of goalie Mike Murphy, who made 28 saves, including 15 in a second period that featured a late flurry of excellent scoring chances for the visitors.
Besides limiting those scoring chances, the Checkers will be looking for a bounce back performance from their special teams. One game after going 3-6 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill with a shorthanded goal against Norfolk on Wednesday, the Checkers allowed two power-play goals to Milwaukee while failing to convert on a key two-man advantage in the first period that would have given them an early 2-0 lead. Charlotte would finish the evening 1-7 on the power play, although it went 0-6 after Boychuk’s goal at the 1:22 mark of the first.
Though Murphy was stellar in earning his first victory since Nov. 6, colleague Justin Peters is expected to get the start in goal on Sunday. Peters owns a 4-1-1 record with a 1.75 goals-against average and .945 save percentage during the month of November.
Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti remains questionable for the Checkers, while Cedric McNicoll is out with a lower-body injury.
The Checkers became one of the few teams to get through to goaltender Jeremy Smith this season, as the second-year pro allowed three goals for just the fourth time in 14 appearances this season. Heading into Sunday’s rematch, Smith, who has played in all but two of the Admirals’ games this season and has started on back-to-back nights four times, ranks tied for fifth in the AHL with a 2.13 goals-against average.
Saturday’s performance saw the Admirals’ power play jump from 12th to 8th in the AHL with a 20.3 percent conversion rate that is just one tenth of a percentage point less than that of the Checkers. Chris Mueller, who scored both of Milwaukee’s goals on Saturday, now leads the team with four power-play strikes on the season and is one of five Admirals to score in double figures on the team’s balanced attack.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis, the 11th overall draft choice by Nashville in 2009, earned an assist on Mueller’s second goal to extend his point streak to five games (1g, 4a). The rookie blueliner is tied for seventh among all AHL defenseman with 11 points (4g, 7a) in 15 games.
• Despite playing in just nine of the Checkers’ 20 games this season due to a month-long NHL recall, Zach Boychuk ranks third on the team in goals with six. Five of his tallies have come at home, while three have come on the man advantage to put him in second place on the team behind Jerome Samson’s five. Boychuk scored on his only two shots during Saturday’s win over Milwaukee, improving his shooting percentage to 37.5 percent on the season, good for second in the AHL.
• Though his five-game assist streak, tied for the longest active run in the AHL at the time, came to an end on Saturday, Checkers forward Chris Terry scored a goal to extend his overall point streak to six games. The streak is the fourth six-game run of his career, including two seven game streaks which still rank as career highs. During his current streak, tied for the second-longest active point streak in the AHL, Terry has one goal and seven assists.
• Forward Jerome Samson reclaimed sole possession of the Checkers’ scoring lead with an assist on Saturday that extended his point streak to three games (2g, 4a). Samson, who holds a 10-shot lead in AHL shots on goal with 93, ranks tied for 10th in AHL scoring with 20 points (9g, 11a) in 20 games.
• Defenseman Michal Jordan picked up an assist on Saturday to extend his career-high point streak to five games (1g, 4a). The second-year pro leads all team defenseman in goals (3) and assists (7), while ranking tied for fourth overall on the team with 10 points.
• Nov. 21 - (C) Brett Sutter recalled by Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte
• Nov. 21 - (LW) Zach Boychuk reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
• Nov. 21 - (C) Zac Dalpe reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
• Nov. 25 – (D) Roman Jose recalled to Nashville (NHL) from Milwaukee
• Nov. 23 – (F) Niclas Bergfors assigned to Milwaukee from Nashville (NHL)