Chris Terry scored Charlotte’s other goal on the power play to make the score 6-2 early in the third period, making him the only Checkers player with at least one point in all four of the team’s games (3g, 1a). Starter Mike Murphy allowed four goals on 20 shots before giving way to Jesse Deckert, who stopped 10 of 13.
In a night where nothing went the Checkers way – many of Iowa’s goals were of the particularly odd variety – it was difficult to point a finger at exactly what went wrong. What was clear is that it was a step in the opposite direction of where the team hoped to go after a 3-1 loss to the Wild one night earlier, which was their first game in two weeks.
“For the most part we got out-worked today, and that’s unacceptable in your own rink,” said center Brody Sutter, whose controversial penalty caused a Checkers goal to be disallowed in the third period. “You can’t really use the two weeks off as an excuse, because we played a lot better last night.”
Adding injury to insult was a hit from behind that Iowa’s Raphael Bussieres delivered to rookie forward Brendan Woods with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Woods, whose head made hard contact with the glass in the corner to Deckert’s left, was very slow to get up on the play while Manny Malhotra, a veteran NHL forward on a tryout contract, immediately stepped in to fight Bussieres.
“I thought it was obviously a hit from behind and Manny was doing what a good teammate would do with sticking up for him,” said Daniels.
Daniels did not have an immediate update on the condition of Woods, who eventually left the ice with the assistance of medical staff. Bussieres received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct in addition to his major for fighting Malhotra.
Though Carson McMillan would go on to score his second goal of the game following that incident, the Checkers’ trouble began far earlier. The first strange bounce came on one of the first few shifts, as a shot from the point appeared to deflect off of something, hit Murphy in the mask and pop up over his head, only to fall behind him for Kris Foucault to pick up the loose change. Less than five minutes later, Warren Peters was the first to find an uncontested puck in what appeared to be a dead play in front of Murphy, taking a stab that ended up in the goal.
Shortly after Peters’ tally, Flood appeared to score an important goal that could have given the Checkers a way back into the game, as he skated in from the point and deposited a rebound of Justin Shugg’s shot past goalie Darcy Kuemper. However, McMillan’s goal with 15 seconds left in the period proved to be a backbreaker, with the Checkers accomplishing the sins of allowing goals in the first and last minutes of a period twice within the same 20-minute frame.
“We shouldn’t let it bother us, but maybe we did after getting frustrated yesterday,” said Sutter of allowing the game’s first goal. “The first goal was fluky and after that we stopped working.”
Iowa’s Jake Dowell then chased Murphy with a shot from behind the goal line that banked off the netminder’s stick and into the goal early in the second period. Deckert, a 27-year-old who was making his AHL debut, then allowed a rebound goal to Erik Haula five minutes after entering the game and surrendered a second to Zack Phillips, whose power-play effort hit the broken stick of Danny Biega, rose sharply to hit the crossbar and then fell into the net.
That goal, as strange as one is likely to see, was a perfect microcosm of the Checkers’ night. Everything that could have gone against them did, not that they necessarily deserved a better outcome.
“The whole night, we weren’t working,” said forward Zach Boychuk. “We had a lot of guys who weren’t working hard enough, and you get embarrassed in your own rink when that happens.”
Terry was able to score his second goal in as many nights, blasting a shot from the point just seconds into a man advantage. That was his third of the season, tying him with Flood, who had just one goal in 52 games while playing in Russia last season, for the team lead.
The Checkers will now have three practice days in Charlotte before departing on a six-game, 10-day road trip, its longest of the season in terms of consecutive time away from home, that will take it through Grand Rapids (twice), Rockford (twice), Chicago and San Antonio starting this Friday.
They’ll do so with Sunday’s result firmly in mind.
“This will maybe bring us back down to earth a little bit after going 2-0 to start the year,” said Sutter.
“It’s about being pros,” said Daniels. “You’ve got to bring it every night. You can’t pick and choose when you want to play.”
NotesIowa had six different goal scorers on Sunday, one more than the Checkers have had in their four games combined … The Checkers 0-2-0 start at home is their first since their inaugural 2010-11 season, when they started 0-2-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena … Including last season’s playoffs, the Checkers have given up six or more goals in three of their last four home games … Three Iowa players – Foucault, Haula and Phillips – had three-point nights … Boychuk had a game-low, minus-three rating.
North Carolina Education Lottery Three Stars1. Carson McMillan
2. Erik Haula
3. Zack Philipps