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Weekly Report: Feb. 17, 2014

Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report
Though it looked like the Checkers would return from the All-Star break with two consecutive losses in Raleigh to extend their winless streak to six games, a big comeback on Sunday will give them some momentum moving forward.

One night after falling 5-1 to Abbotsford in the first of back-to-back games at PNC Arena, the Checkers earned a 5-4 overtime victory over the Heat in Sunday’s rematch despite trailing by three goals at the first intermission. Charlotte’s biggest comeback since October 2012 marked its first victory since Feb. 1, getting it back to within six points of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with 27 games to go.

The Checkers conclude their five-game home stand with a game against the Norfolk Admirals on Tuesday – ther last home game until March 15 as they begin a franchise-record, 10-game road swing with games in Texas this Friday and Saturday.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    23-24-2
  • Home record
    13-15-1
  • Road record
    10-9-1
  • Last week's record
    1-1-0
  • Last 10 games
    4-5-1
  • Division Standings
    5th
  • Conference Standings
    13th
  • League Standings
    24th

Abbotsford 5, Checkers 1

The Checkers remained winless in three games against division rival Abbotsford this month as the Heat defeated them by a 5-1 score at Raleigh’s PNC Arena on Saturday. Victor Rask scored Charlotte’s lone goal on the power play in the second period before the Heat pulled away with three unanswered goals against John Muse, who finished with 28 saves. The loss extended Charlotte’s winless streak to five games (0-4-1), its longest since losing seven in a row in November. Full recap

Checkers 5, Abbotsford 4 (OT)

Charlotte stormed back from a 4-1 first-intermission deficit to stage their biggest comeback since October of last season in a 5-4 win over the Abbotsford Heat in Raleigh on Sunday. Chris Terry had three points (2g, 1a) to lead the comeback, with Brett Sutter netting the winner in the extra frame. Aaron Palushaj and Justin Shugg also scored and Mike Murphy made 25 saves for the Checkers, who defeated the Heat for the first time in four tries and ended their winless streak at four games. Full recap

Notables

Comeback Kids

Down 4-1 at the first intermission against Abbotsford on Feb. 16, the Checkers erased a three-goal deficit for the first time since Oct. 26, 2012, to win by a 5-4 score in overtime. By accomplishing the feat at Raleigh's PNC Arena, the Checkers erased a three-goal deficit at home for the first time since April 22, 2011.

All three of the aforementioned comebacks resulted in victories for the Checkers, who were also down 4-1 in their most recent three-goal charge in Grand Rapids. Chris Terry, who scored twice in the latest rally against Abbotsford, also scored twice in that previous game against the Griffins.

Terry Takes Charge

Checkers forward Chris Terry ended a 13-game goal drought that tied his career high with two goals against Abbotsford on Feb. 16. He also added an assist, giving him a point on all three goals as the Checkers erased a 4-1 deficit before winning in overtime.

Terry, who leads both the Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes in shootout goals this season with two in each league (4-for-4), missed a chance at his first career hat trick on Charlotte's first penalty shot since Feb. 25, 2012, dropping him to 0-for-2 on career AHL penalty shots. Terry has scored two goals in a game on 14 separate occasions during his five AHL seasons, with the Feb. 16 game marking his first multi-goal outing of the season.

Murphy's Helping Hand

Assists by Checkers Defensemen

Player GP A
Mark Flood 48 12
Danny Biega 38 10
Ryan Murphy 9 9
Michal Jordan 43 8
Since joining the Checkers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 24, Ryan Murphy has nine points, all assists, in nine games with Charlotte. That gives him the third-most assists by a Checkers defensman all season, just three away from the team lead held by Mark Flood. He has at least one assist in all five of his home games, which ties the second-longest active home assist streak in the AHL.

Murphy, the Hurricanes' first-round pick (12th overall) in 2011, now has 13 assists in 17 career AHL games dating back to last season, including five Calder Cup Playoff games. Nine of those assists came on the power play.

Bump in the Road

The Checkers' five-game winless streak that ended Feb. 16 was their second-longest of the season, trailing a franchise-record, seven-game regulation losing streak from Nov. 2-19. It was tied with Adirondack for the longest active winless streak in the AHL.

Defensive Lapses

The Checkers have allowed four or more goals in each of their last six games dating back to Feb. 4, marking the longest such streak in their four AHL seasons. They had previously not allowed four or more goals in more than four consecutive games, a mark initially set on Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2012. The Checkers' 5-4 overtime win over Abbotsford on Feb. 16 improved them to 2-16-1 when allowing four or more goals this season.

During the current streak, in which they have a 1-4-1 record, the Checkers have allowed a total of 32 goals for an average of 5.33 per game. Their goals-against average for the season is now 3.29 (28th AHL), which is up from an even 3.00 on Feb. 4.

Working Overtime

Though the Checkers have gone to the extra session twice in their last three games, their six overtime games this season are still at least two fewer than any other AHL team. Their two shootout appearances are at least three fewer than any team in the league.

Charlotte has a 4-2 record in overtime games this season, including a 3-1 record in games decided during the five-minute, four-on-four period and a 1-1 record in the shootout.

Salvaging the Series

Charlotte's win against Abbotsford on Feb. 16 prevented them from going pointless in its four-game series with the Heat this season. The Checkers have only gone pointless in a season series once in their four AHL seasons, having posted an 0-4-0 record against Toronto during the current campaign. The win over Abbotsford also prevented the Checkers from going winless against Canadian teams this season (0-7-1).

Floodgates Open

Mark Flood scored his 11th goal of the campaign against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 to set a new team record for most goals by a defenseman in a single season. Flood, who needed just 46 games to accomplish the feat, topped the old mark of 10 set by Bobby Sanguinetti in the 2011-12 season and tied his own career high set with Manitoba in 2010-11.

Flood, a 29-year-old veteran who scored just one goal in 52 games in the Russian KHL last season, ranks second in terms of goals by AHL defensemen and is tied for third among league blueliners with six power-play goals.

Boychuk Burst

Boychuk Career Goals / Game

2009-10 .29
2010-11 .37
2011-12 .33
2012-13 .47
2013-14 .52
Checkers forward Zach Boychuk has seven goals in his last nine games, including the second and third hat tricks of his career on Jan. 24 and Feb. 1. He leads the Checkers and is tied for fifth in the AHL with 22 goals, which are just one shy of his career high set last season. He has hit the 20-goal mark in the AHL in each of his four seasons with the Checkers.

Boychuk's 88 career Checkers goals are three short of tying Chris Terry for the franchise's all-time lead. He already leads the franchise with 40 power-play goals, including 12 this season that are tied for the most in the AHL and for the Checkers' single-season record.

Quick Hits

  • Charlotte is one of two AHL teams (Texas) to feature three or more players among the league's top 16 scorers. Aaron Palushaj is 12th and Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry are in a four-way tie for 13th.
  • The Checkers are 2-for-7 on penalty shots during their four AHL seasons, with their last goal coming from Jon Matsumoto on Dec. 20, 2011.
  • Since going a season-high five games without a power-play goal, the Checkers have scored on the man advantage in three consecutive games (3-for-11: 27.2 percent)
  • The Feb. 16 game against Abbotsford marked just the second time in team history that the Checkers had not given their opponent a power-play opportunity. The previous occurrence was a home game against Hershey on Dec. 10, 2010.
  • After allowing a total of 16 goals in his last three starts, John Muse's goals-against average for the season has risen from 2.39 to 2.80.
  • The Checkers are 11-7-1 against fellow West Division opponents this season, making it the only division they have a winning record against. The Feb. 16 win over Abbotsford broke a five-game losing streak against divisional opponents.
  • Charlotte's two shorthanded goals are tied with Adirondack for the fewest in the league
  • After falling behind 4-1 in the first period of their game on Feb. 16, the Checkers no longer have a positive goal differential in any period.

Player Streaks

  • Ryan Murphy has assists and points in each of his last four games (Feb. 7-16: 0g, 5a)
  • Chris Terry has assists and points in each of his last two games (Feb. 15-16: 2g, 2a)

Milestones

  • Justin Shugg played his 150th professional game against Abbotsford on Feb. 16
  • Aaron Palushaj recorded his 200th professional penalty minute against Abbotsford on Feb. 16
  • Nicolas Blanchard played his 450th professional game against Abbotsford on Feb. 15
  • Nicolas Blanchard recorded his 800 professional penalty minute with a fight against Abbotsford's Chris Breen on Feb. 15
  • Chris Terry is two shy of 350 AHL games
  • Matt Corrente is three shy of 500 professional penalty minutes
  • Rasmus Rissanen is four shy of 200 Checkers/AHL/professional penalty minutes

Injuries

  • Greg Nemisz - missed three games starting Feb. 9

Transactions

Incoming

  • None

Outgoing

  • Feb. 14 - (D) Beau Schmitz assigned to Florida (ECHL) from Charlotte

This Week's Games

Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Norfolk

Bud LightHendrick Acura
  • Wet Your Whistle Weekday - discounted Bud Lights
  • College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - discounted tickets with valid college email address. Click here to purchase.

Friday, Feb. 21 at 8:30 p.m. - Checkers at Texas

Saturday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. - Checkers at Texas

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 21.7% 4th 21.3% (4th)
Penalty kill 80.2% 23rd 80.8% (20th)
Goals per game 3.00 12th 3.00 (11th)
Shots per game 32.5 5th 32.3 (5th)
Goals allowed per game 3.29 28th 3.23 (27th)
Shots allowed per game 32.1 25th 32.1 (25th)
Penalty minutes per game 14.8 9th 14.8 (8th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Aaron Palushaj (43), Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry (42), Justin Shugg (26)
Goals Zach Boychuk (22), Aaron Palushaj (18), Chris Terry (16)
Assists Chris Terry (26), Aaron Palushaj (25), Zach Boychuk (20)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (12), Chris Terry (8), Mark Flood (6)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (5), Chris Terry (3), four tied at (2)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (141), Aaron Palushaj (133), Zach Boychuk (127)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (83), Nicolas Blanchard (79), Rasmus Rissanen (59)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+8), Brody Sutter (+7), three tied at (+1)
Wins John Muse (16), Mike Murphy (4)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.80), Mike Murphy (3.86)
Save percentage John Muse (.910), Mike Murphy (.882)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (26-22-9: 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 35 4 8 12 2 -8  
Manny Malhotra C 42 6 5 11 14 3 3rd NHL with 59.3 faceoff percentage
Aaron Palushaj RW 2 0 0 0 0 -1 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 29
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 Nov. 22
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Justin Peters 21 7-9-4 2.50 .919 1 Played one game since Dec. 27

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (26-17-5: 6th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 44 18 13 31 11 +9 6-game point streak (3g, 6a)
Austin Levi D 36 1 8 9 30 0  
Stefan Della Rovere F - - - - - - On injured reserve
Sean Dolan C 3 2 2 4 2 0 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Beau Schmitz D 8 0 4 4 2 0  
Kellan Tochkin F 32 4 19 23 36 +7 Assigned to Evansville on Feb. 8
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.