The Checkers have a chance to extend their team-record five-game winning streak tonight when they finish a two-game set against the visiting Texas Stars.
Tonight's game also marks the first of a three-in-three cluster for Charlotte, with the Lake Erie Monsters in town Sunday and Monday. That will conclude the Checkers' six-game home stand at Time Warner Cable Arena, where the team has posted an 8-1-1 record this season.
Both the Checkers (14-6-2) and Stars (8-11-1) have been off since their last meeting on Wednesday, when the Checkers came back from a 2-1 first-period deficit to skate away 3-2 winners in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
The Checkers are used to playing the same team in consecutive games, but those contests typically come on back-to-back nights.
That makes the scheduling of this series with Texas all the more unusual, with the teams taking a two-day break before resuming hostilities tonight. While he acknowledged each squad would be a little better prepared for their opponent than usual, Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels said the focus would still be on his own squad.
"We have a better understanding of what their system is, but we’re trying to get back to playing the way we can," he said. "We’ll be looking have a better first period than we did the other night."
The Checkers are likely to have reigning AHL Goaltender of the Month Justin Peters in the net tonight, with Mike Murphy earning the win on Wednesday.
During the month of November, which coincided with his return from a two-week spell on the sidelines due to injury, Peters posted a 5-1-1 record with a 1.63 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.
Peters and Murphy have combined to give the Checkers the league's second-best team goals-against average at 2.45.
We're just trying to create more offense," said coach Jeff Daniels. "We’re also trying to keep things fresh because after a while combinations can become stale."
The Checkers still have 14 healthy forwards, with Jared Staal and Justin Shugg having sat out Wednesday's game as healthy extras, a trend that is likely to continue tonight. Center Cedric McNicoll and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti remain out due to injury.
The Stars enter tonight's game with just one win in their last five contests, a 2-1 overtime win at Houston on Nov. 25. They currently rank 13th in the Western Conference and five points out of a playoff spot.
Defenseman Jordie Benn, older brother of Dallas Stars' forward Jamie Benn, entered Wednesday's contest as the hottest player on Texas' roster and did nothing to change that heading into tonight's rematch. Benn got the visitors on the board midway through the first period to tie the game at 1-1, extending his personal point streak to four games (3g, 2a).
Five of Benn's seven goals this season have come in his last eight contests, giving him a level of recent production unmatched by any other Texas player. The team's top three active scorers, Travis Morin, Raymond Sawada and Matt Fraser, have combined to post just five points in their last eight games.
The Stars have been hampered by NHL recalls of late, with goaltender Richard Bachman the most notable absence. Understudy-turned-starter Tyler Beskorowany has played in just seven of the team's 20 contests this season, including Wednesday's loss to the Checkers, posting a 1-5-0 record with a 3.19 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. Additionally, forward Tomas Vincour is still tied for third in team scoring despite missing the last four games due to recall.
• Charlotte's current five-game winning streak marks the longest in the team's two-year history and the longest active streak in the AHL. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a league-best eight game streak between Oct. 21 and Nov. 11.
• The Checkers’ 17 points earned at home rank tied with Rochester for first in the AHL. Charlotte has earned points in seven consecutive home games, including four straight wins, to post the second-longest active home point streak in the AHL. The Checkers are now 8-1-1 at home this season.
• Checkers forwards Jon Matsumoto currently holds the team scoring lead with 21 points through 22 games played, tying him for 10 in AHL scoring. The fifth-year pro has six points (3g, 3a) in his last five games, and holds a team and career high plus-9 plus/minus rating.
• Forward Chris Terry has set a personal and team record with points in each of his last eight games (2g, 9a). The streak is the second-longest active streak in the AHL and is two games shy of being the longest streak posted by any player in the league this season. Having led the Checkers in goal scoring last season with 34, Terry now leads the team in assists, having posted 14 through 20 games.
• Forward Jerome Samson is the AHL’s leader in shots on goal once again with 97 – six more than any other player. However, he has recorded just five shots over his last three games, which marks his lowest three-game total this season. He has recorded five or more shots in 12 of his 21 games this season, including a season-high nine on Oct. 30. Samson is the Checkers' second-highest scorer with 20 points (9g, 11a) in 22 games and leads the team with five power-play goals.
• Nov. 29 - (C) Brett Sutter reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
• Dec. 2 - (LW) Michael Neal reassigned to Idaho (ECHL) from Texas
• Nov. 29 – (LW) Francis Wathier reassigned to Texas from Dallas (NHL)
• Nov. 28 – (G) Jimmy Spratt signed to PTO
• Nov. 28 – (LW) Michael Neal recalled to Texas from Idaho (ECHL)
• Nov. 27 – (LW) Francis Wathier recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas
• Nov. 27 – (G) Richard Bachman recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas