The Charlotte Checkers return from their first trip to Cleveland to play the Lake Erie Monsters with two losses, but still pick up an all important two points after losing Saturday night in a shootout and Sunday afternoon in overtime. Extra time has not been kind to the Checkers lately as the last three games have resulted in either shootout or overtime losses. Charlotte’s once successful shootout record now sits at .500 (5-5).
Monsters 3, Checkers 2 (SO) (03-Mar-2012)
With three of their top six scorers up in Raleigh with the Hurricanes, the Checkers had a hard time generating many scoring chances in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Monsters, managing only 22 shots on goal through 65 minutes. Bobby Sanguinetti opened the scoring early for the Checkers, beating Lake Erie’s goaltender Gerald Coleman with a high wrister just 1:27 into the game. David van der Gulik would tie the game for Lake Erie a little over six minutes later. The game would remain tied until about midway through the third period when Luke Walker’s slapshot made it past Mike Murphy to give the Monsters a 2-1 lead.
The goal by Walker appeared as if it would hold up for the game winner until Nicolas Blanchard picked up a loose puck in front of the net and pushed it past Coleman with only 1:37 to play in regulation. A quiet overtime which saw only one shot from Lake Erie and none from the Checkers would give way to a shootout where Murphy allowed two goals on three attempts from the Monsters while Charlotte could not convert on any of their four attempts (Coleman stopped Justin Shugg, Matt Pistilli, Zac Dalpe, and Chris Terry.) Murphy had 18 saves in his first game action since returning from an injury suffered back in January.
Official Game Sheet: here
Monsters 2, Checkers 1 (OT) (04-Mar-2012)
Like Saturday, the Checkers drew first blood against the Monsters. After a scoreless first period, Chris Terry scored on a two-on-one with Zac Dalpe. Also like Saturday, the Monsters would answer that opening goal just 6 minutes later, this time on a short-handed tally. And again following in Saturday’s footsteps, the two teams would need extra time to determine the outcome of the contest. Sunday’s matinee did see a dramatic increase in scoring opportunities for the Checkers who finished with 35 shots on goal. Reassigned from Carolina after the previous night’s game, Zach Boychuk registered four of those shots, with two of them coming in the game’s dying minutes. Monsters’ netminder Cedrick Desjardins withstood the late flurry of chances coming from the Checkers and the game headed in overtime.
The game ended with a controversial goal just 1:20 into the overtime. Lake Erie’s Cameron Gaunce ran into goaltender Justin Peters and knocked him over after taking a shot on goal. The Checkers protested the call on the ice of a good goal, but the officials ruled that Peters did not get hit until after the puck had crossed the goal line. Peters finished the game with 25 saves in his first AHL action since returning from a three month recall to Carolina.
Official Game Sheet: here
The Checkers now return home for a six game homestand that kicks off Saturday with back-to-back games against the division rival Chicago Wolves. With Chicago sitting just three points behind the Checkers in the Midwest Division, this could be one of Charlotte’s biggest stretches of the year. Come on out to Time Warner Cable Arena and cheer on our future Canes as they march closer to some post-season action!