February 19, 2012 6:04 PM
The game itself couldn’t have been much more different, but unfortunately for the Checkers, the result was the same.
One day after neither team could muster a single goal in Chicago’s 1-0 shootout triumph, the teams combined to score nine in Sunday’s rematch. The bulk of those were scored by the host Wolves, who topped Charlotte 6-3 to get to within one point of the Midwest Division lead with two games in hand.
Justin Shugg, A.J. Jenks and Justin Soryal scored for the Checkers, who finished their weekend road trip with a record of 1-1-1. John Muse, playing for the third consecutive night, made 20 saves but allowed a career-high five goals as Charlotte took just one out of a possible four points in their two-game set against the Wolves.
The game concluded a stretch in which the Checkers played seven of eight games on the road, with the team now returning home to face the AHL’s No. 1 team, Oklahoma City, for back-to-back games starting Friday.
Though the Checkers never once led in either game against Chicago, they did erase a 2-0 deficit to briefly tie the game courtesy of Jenks’ rebound finish early in the second period. However, Chicago would score twice in the next three minutes to restore the two-goal lead, one they would not relinquish despite a later goal by Soryal, who deflected a Mathieu Roy point shot to bring visitors within one at the second intermission.
The second comeback bid would fall short when the Wolves’ Kevin Connauton, who entered the game tied for second in the AHL in goals by defensemen, notched his 11th at the midway point of the third. His shot past Muse’s glove came on Chicago’s second shot of the period and would prove to be the backbreaking tally as Charlotte had begun to apply pressure at the other end.
With Muse pulled for the extra attacker late, Charlotte did nearly make things interesting when they appeared to make it 5-4 with 1:13 left to play. However, after initially ruling a goal on the ice, referees reversed that decision after some discussion, judging that the Checkers had pushed goalie Matt Climie into the net as he attempted to freeze the puck.
That would be as close as the Checkers could come to finding the equalizer, with Wolves leading scorer Mark Mancari icing the game with a late empty-netter. Mancari, who now has 5 points in three games against Charlotte, also scored the Wolves’ game-winning fourth goal.
Michael Davies also scored twice for the home team, including the opening tally just 2:16 into the first period and the quick response to Jenks’ goal in the second. Tim Miller added a second goal for Chicago just past the midway point of the first before Charlotte rookie Justin Shugg stopped the bleeding with a fine individual effort, blowing by a defenseman with a nifty one-on-one move before beating Climie on the breakaway.
Though Shugg’s goal was just his third of the season, the 20-year-old has 7 points in his last eight AHL games. Charlotte’s other goals were also scored by secondary sources who have been heating up of late, with Jenks scoring his second of the season to give him 5 points in his last eight contests, while Soryal added his fourth for his fifth point in his last nine games.
Climie, facing the Checkers for just the second time his season, finished with 32 saves as the Checkers out-shot Chicago 35-26. The Checkers fell to 2-3-1 against the Wolves this season, with the final two games of the series scheduled to take place in Charlotte on March 10 and 11.
NOTES: Prior to Sunday, Muse had never allowed more than three goals in 13 career appearances at the AHL level … Prior to his recent run, Shugg was scoreless in his first eight AHL games, while Jenks had no points in his first 30 games of the season with San Antonio and Charlotte … Soryal’s goal gave him 10 points on the season, tying his career high … The Checkers fell to 10-10-1 this season in games that are part of a three-in-three set, including a 2-5-0 mark in the third games … With defenseman Justin Krueger out due to an upper-body injury he suffered on Saturday, Chicago native Joe Sova played his first game since Feb. 3 … Forwards Chris Durno and Riley Nash, defenseman Chris Murry and goalie Mike Murphy also missed the game due to injury.