After Chris Terry sent the Checkers into the third period with a 2-2 tie in Norfolk, the Admirals scored the next three goals, including an empty-netter, in a 5-2 win on Wednesday. Charlotte, which opened the scoring via Matt Marquardt in the first period, has now lost each of its last two games since ending a franchise-record, seven-game slide on Saturday.
John Muse made 24 saves for the Checkers, who have now lost four consecutive road games in regulation, extending a team record.
Continuing a theme that has been present throughout the season (the Checkers entered the game ranked 27th in the AHL with a 77.8 percent success rate on the penalty kill), Norfolk scored key goals on the power play, including the game winner.
After Terry scored his seventh of the season, tying Mark Flood for the team lead on a redirection of Matt Corrente’s blast from the point, Rickard Rakell made it 3-2 just 18 seconds after Charlotte captain Brett Sutter shot the puck over the glass from the defensive zone in the third period, resulting in a delay of game penalty.
Charlotte finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-5 on the penalty kill while also allowing a shorthanded goal to Max Friberg, who beat Muse on a clear breakaway just one second after a four-on-four sequence had expired.
The Checkers had one final chance to get back into the game when Kevin Gagne took a holding penalty 3:40 to play but couldn’t convert, even with Muse pulled for an extra attacker during the latter portion. During the more conventional 6-on-5 sequence after the expiration of Gagne’s penalty, John Kurtz put the final nail in the coffin after Norfolk capitalized on a turnover for the easy empty-net goal.
Smith-Pelly, who accompanied Etem on the trip from Anaheim earlier Wednesday, picked up the lone assist on Kurtz’s goal for a three-point night (1g, 2a). His goal tied the game at 1-1 less than a minute after Marquardt, who had missed the previous two games as a healthy extra, beat goalie John Gibson on a quick shot from the slot.
Marquardt’s goal signaled a promising start for the Checkers, who out-shot Norfolk 16-7 in the first period, with their 16 shots tying the second-most they have taken in a single period all season.
The Checkers now return home to begin a 10-game home stand that starts Saturday and runs until Dec. 21.