With a two-week schedule break looming, the Checkers needed a good start to the season and got just that, edging the Oklahoma City Barons, 3-2, and sweeping the two-game, season-opening series.
Newcomer Aaron Palushaj led the way with three points (1g, 2a) and Zach Boychuk added a goal and an assist. Mark Flood, who on Friday became the only defenseman in franchise history to score in his debut, notched his second goal in as many nights, while Mike Murphy made 22 saves in his first start of the season and first victory as a Checker since March 31, 2012.
As a result of an unusual scheduling situation, the Checkers, now 2-0 for the first time in franchise history, will sit idle until their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 19, against the Iowa Wild.
Murphy then made a series of impressive stops, including a diving glove save late in the period, to preserve Charlotte’s 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
After another series of saves by Murphy to start the second period, Boychuk broke in alone on Bachman and made a forehand-to-backhand move before roofing the puck into the top corner.
The Barons would cut Charlotte’s lead in half with a shorthanded goal by Lance Pitlick on a partial break before Palushaj would make it 3-1 Checkers with less than six minutes to play. On a 3-on-1 with Boychuk and Victor Rask, Palushaj took a pass off his skate, kicked the puck to his stick and backhanded it over a sprawling Bachman.
Oklahoma City forward Ryan Martindale stuffed home a rebound on the power play late in the game but the Checkers shut the door in the final minutes and hung on for the 3-2 victory.
NOTES: The Checkers are off to their first 2-0-0 start in the team’s four-year AHL history… Mike Murphy won in his first start of the season and joined Terry, Rasmus Rissanen, Boychuk, Nicolas Blanchard, Jared Staal and Michal Jordan as the only Checkers to play in all four of the team’s AHL seasons... Murphy’s last win as a Checker came on March 31, 2012 at Peoria… For the second night in a row, Charlotte jumped out to a 2-0 lead and won 3-2... Forward Brendan Woods made his season debut… Charlotte’s healthy scratches were forwards Stefan Della Rovere, Kyle Bonis and Adam Brace and defenseman Beau Schmitz… Charlotte and Oklahoma City were both 1-for-4 on the power play... The Checkers have a 13-day break between tonight's game and the home opener on Oct. 19 vs. Iowa.