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Weekly Report: Jan. 13, 2013

Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report
The Checkers picked up a pair of victories in Oklahoma City last week, extending their winning streak to three games and staying perfect against their West Division rival in the process.

After six full days off, Charlotte scored four goals in the first period of Friday's 5-2 win and got a dramatic late winner from former Baron Philippe Cornet with under two minutes remaining for a 2-1 victory on Saturday. With those wins, the Checkers jumped two spots to 11th place in the Western Conference and will have a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 7 when they host the Texas Stars this Friday.

That game against Texas, which will be making its second visit to Time Warner Cable Arena in three weeks, is the first of three games in three days. The teams play a rematch at noon on Saturday and the Norfolk Admirals come to town for a game on Sunday evening.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    17-18-1
  • Home record
    8-12-0
  • Road record
    9-6-1
  • Last week's record
    2-0-0
  • Last 10 games
    6-4-0
  • Division Standings
    3rd
  • Conference Standings
    11th
  • League Standings
    24th

Checkers 5, OKC 2

The Checkers scored four first-period goals for just the second time in team history and survived a late push by the visitors to record a 5-2 win in Oklahoma City on Friday. Matthew Pistilli, who recorded his second consecutive two-goal game, Victor Rask and Chris Terry all scored inside the first 20 minutes, with Aaron Palushaj adding an empty-net goal to ensure the victory. Mike Murphy made 41 saves, tying the most by a Checkers goalie this season, to win his second straight game. Full recap

Checkers 2, OKC 1

Former Barons forward Philippe Cornet scored the winning goal with just 1:36 remaining in regulation as the Checkers pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday. With the win, the Checkers extended their winning streak to three games and improved to 4-0-0 against the Barons this season, with all four meetings having taken place in Oklahoma City. John Muse stopped 35 of 36 shots in goal, while A.J. Jenks scored a power-play goal to tie the game in the second period. Full recap

Notables

Winning Streak

The Checkers' current three-game win streak is their second-longest of the season, as the team previously won four in a row from Dec. 10-19 during a 10-game home stand. Since the beginning of the first streak, the Checkers have posted a record of 9-4-0 and currently sit six points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with four games in hand over eighth-placed Rockford.

Pistol Blazing

Forward Matthew Pistilli recorded back-to-back two-goal games on Friday, Jan. 3 and Friday, Jan. 10, marking the first time a Checkers player has accomplished that feat since Riley Nash did it on Feb. 16 and March 23 of last season, games that came on either side of a lengthy NHL recall. Prior to those two games, Pistilli had a pair of two-goal outings in his previous 171 AHL games with Albany and Charlotte.

Pistilli, the ECHL's leading scorer with 36 points (16g, 20a) in 28 games at the time of signing a professional tryout contract with Charlotte on Dec. 27, now has four points, all goals, in seven AHL games with Charlotte this season.

Palushaj Picks up the Pace

Checkers forward Aaron Palushaj has 18 points (4g, 14a) in his last 13 AHL games. During that time period, he has at least one point in 11 of those games and has posted six multi-point outings, allowing him to overtake Zach Boychuk for the team's scoring lead with 32 points. He is now tied for 11th in the AHL in scoring.

Palushaj also leads the Checkers with 22 assists, which rank ninth in the AHL and are at least eight more than any other Charlotte skater, and ranks second on the team with 96 shots on goal. He has points in each of his last seven road games, marking the longest active streak in the league, while his seven-game road assist streak ties the longest posted in the league at any point this season.

Getting Even

Having improved their record to 17-18-1 by winning each of their last three games, the Checkers can get back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 7 by winning their next game against the Texas Stars on Jan. 17. The Checkers were 5-5-1 following that Nov. 7 loss to Chicago, the second in a franchise-record, seven-game losing streak that still marks the longest in the AHL this season. The team was at a record-low six games under .500 as recently as Dec. 7.

Prior to the current campaign, the latest in a season that the Checkers had been under .500 was Nov. 10, 2010.

Murphy Gets in Groove

Mike Murphy
Checkers goalie Mike Murphy stopped 73 of 78 shots to win his last two starts, marking the first time he has won back-to-back decisions since Jan. 15-17, 2012. His 41 saves in a 5-2 win over Oklahoma City on Jan. 10 tied Anton Khudobin for the most made by a Checkers goalie this season.

Prior to his win over Texas on Jan. 3, Murphy had not won a game since the season's opening weekend, his first start of the season on Oct. 5. After a two-month period from Oct. 25-Dec. 30 in which John Muse was the only Checkers goalie to earn a win, three different goalies (Muse, Murphy and Khudobin) have shared the team's last four victories.

Power Players

The Checkers, who rank second in the AHL with a 23.3 percent success rate on the power play, have scored 38 percent of their goals on the man advantage (38 of 100), which is the highest percentage of any AHL team. However, that percentage has been dropping steadily of late, with 20 of the team's last 25 goals scored at even strength or shorthanded.

For the season, Charlotte's 62 even-strength goals are the fourth-fewest in the league.

Boychuk Power Up

Despite missing the Checkers' last seven games while on NHL recall, Zach Boychuk still leads the AHL with 10 power-play goals. His 14 total goals are tied with Chris Terry for most on the team and tied for 12th in the AHL.

Boychuk returned to Charlotte on Jan. 11 with an active-five game point streak at the AHL level (5g, 1a from Dec. 12-21). He has four points (1g, 3a) in nine NHL games this season.

Fast Start

The Checkers scored four goals in the first period for just the second time in team history on Friday, having also accomplished the feat on Jan. 23, 2011. It was the team's first four-goal period since the second period of a game in Milwaukee on Feb. 16 of last season. It also produced 21 shots on goal, tying a season high set in the third period of a game against Hershey on Nov. 13.

The franchise record for most goals in a single period is eight, set during the second period of a game against Syracuse on Dec. 6, 2010.

Close Calls

Eleven of the Checkers' last 16 games since Dec. 1 have been decided by one goal, with the team posting a 9-2-0 record in those games. Prior to Dec. 1, the team had played seven one goal games in their first 20, going 2-4-1 in those contests.

Of the Checkers' 10 victories since Dec. 1, all but one, a 5-2 win at Oklahoma City on Jan. 11, have come by a single goal.

Meet the Division

In 36 games, the Checkers have played against their own division, the West, just nine times, marking the fewest games that any AHL team has played within its own division. The West is the only division the Checkers have a winning record against at 7-2-0.

Four of the Checkers' next five gaes will be played against divisional opponents, beginning with a two-game set against Texas on Jan. 17 and 18 and continuing with two games against Oklahoma City on Jan. 23 and 24.

Three in Threes

The Checkers play their third three-in-three set of the season, the second played entirely at home, from Jan. 17-19. The team is 3-2-1 in games that are part of a three-in-three this season, including a 2-0-0 record in game one, an 0-1-1 record in game two and a 1-1-0 record in game three.

All-time, the Checkers are 15-7-3 in game one, 15-5-5 in game two and 12-12-1 in game three over the course of their four AHL seasons.

Quick Hits

Mark Flood
  • Saturday's 2-1 win improved the Checkers to 2-12-1 when scoring fewer than three goals
  • Charlotte's three overtime games are the fewest in the league, as is its lone shootout appearance.
  • Seven of Nicolas Blanchard's 10 points this season have come in his last 10 games. He had three points in his first 26.
  • Matt Corrente's plus-8 rating since Dec. 1 leads all Checkers skaters
  • The Checkers are one of three AHL teams to have a losing record at home (8-12-0) and a winning record on the road (9-6-1)
  • Despite not scoring a goal since Dec. 7 (13 games) Mark Flood is tied for third among all AHL defensemen with eight goals and five power-play goals.
  • Charlotte has both scored (35) and allowed (43) more goals in the third period than in any other period.
  • The first period is the only period in which the Checkers have a positive goal differential (33 for, 30 against).

Player Streaks

  • Zach Boychuk has points in each of his last five games (Dec. 12-21: 5g, 3a)
  • Philippe Cornet has points in each of his last four games (Jan. 2-11: 2g, 3a)
  • Justin Shugg has assists and points in each of his last four games (Jan. 2-11: 0g, 4a)
  • Aaron Palushaj has assists and points in each of his last two games (Jan. 10-11: 1g, 3a)
  • Victor Rask has points in each of his last two games (Jan. 10-11: 1g, 1a)

Milestones

  • None

Injuries

  • Sean Dolan - missed 16 games starting Dec. 1
  • Danny Biega - missed 11 games starting Dec. 15
  • Jared Staal - missed three games starting Jan. 3
  • Greg Nemisz - missed two games starting Jan. 10

Transactions

Incoming

  • Jan. 11 - (LW) Zach Boychuk reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
  • Jan. 11 - (C) Brett Sutter reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
  • Jan. 10 - (LW) Kyle Bonis recalled to Charlotte from Florida (ECHL)
  • Jan. 8 - (RW) Aaron Palushaj reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)

Outgoing

  • none

Coming Up

Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Texas

  • Bring a new or like-new coat to donate to WSOC's Steve's Coats for Kids drive and you'll receive a ticket to the Feb. 18 game.

Saturday, Jan. 18 at 12 p.m. - Checkers vs. Texas

  • Star Wars Day
  • Charlotte Bobcats doubleheader

Sunday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. - Checkers vs. Norfolk

North Carolina Zoo AsheboroCoke Zero
  • Chubby's Birthday
  • NC Zoo Asheboro coupon giveaway
  • Coke Family Four Packs - four tickets, four hot dogs and four Cokes for $65. Fees apply.

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 23.3% 2nd 23.2% (4th)
Penalty kill 80.4% t-21st 79.3% (24th)
Goals per game 2.78 18th 2.74 (19th)
Shots per game 31.1 9th 30.9 (11th)
Goals allowed per game 3.08 22nd 3.18 (t-25th)
Shots allowed per game 32.0 24th 31.5 (21st)
Penalty minutes per game 13.9 5th 14.1 (6th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Aaron Palushaj (32), Chris Terry (28), Zach Boychuk (27)
Goals Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry (14th), Aaron Palushaj (10), Mark Flood, Justin Shugg (8)
Assists Aaron Palushaj (22, Chris Terry (14), Zach Boychuk, Victor Rask (13)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (10), Chris Terry (7), Mark Flood (5)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry (3), Philippe Cornet, Justin Shugg, Brody Sutter (2)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (99), Aaron Palushaj (96), Mark Flood (87)
Penalty minutes Nicolas Blanchard (72), Matt Corrente (57), Rasmus Rissanen (47)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+4), Matt Corrente, Brody Sutter (+3), Matthew Pistilli (+2)
Wins John Muse (12), Mike Murphy (3)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.52), Mike Murphy (3.33)
Save percentage John Muse (.918), Mike Murphy (.901)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (19-17-9: 6th Metropolitan Division)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Zach Boychuk LW 9 1 3 4 0 2 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Elias Lindholm C 23 4 6 10 2 -3 Three points (1g, 2a) vs. TOR on Jan. 9
Manny Malhotra C 33 4 4 8 12 4 Ranks third NHL with 59.7% faceoff percentage
Aaron Palushaj RW 1 0 0 0 0 0 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 8
Brett Sutter C 17 1 1 2 9 -4 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Chris Terry LW 7 0 0 0 0 -3 Reassigned to Charlotte on 11/22
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Justin Peters 20 7-9-4 2.38 .923 1 Backed up seven straight games

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (21-11-2: 3rd Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 30 13 6 19 11 +7 Recalled to Charlotte on Jan. 10
Austin Levi D 23 0 4 4 22 +2 Recalled to Charlotte on 12/14
Stefan Della Rovere F - - - - - - On injured reserve
Kellan Tochkin F 28 3 16 19 30 +2 Third on team in assists
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Jesse Deckert 9 6-1-2 2.71 .891 0 Injured - out for season
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.