Defenseman Matt Corrente recorded his first two-goal game as a professional and Philippe Cornet notched the game-winner as Charlotte picked up a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals, who had earned points in each of their previous four games, to start a three-game trip. John Muse made 29 saves for the Checkers, who, having just completed a 10-game home stand, were playing their first road game in exactly one month.
The win marked the Checkers’ first away from home since Oct. 31 and ended a franchise-record, four-game losing streak on the road. They now head to Chicago to play the Wolves on Sunday before completing their Midwestern swing with a Monday night game in Rockford.
The offensive outburst by Corrente, who, along with defensive partner Keegan Lowe, finished with a game-high, plus-3 rating, nullified a shaky defensive start for the Checkers, who saw the home team take a 2-1 lead before the first period had ended. Both goals came as a result of turnovers in the defensive zone, with the Admirals taking advantage on Mark van Guilder’s short-side goal against Muse and Zach Budish’s five-hole finish on a drop pass from Mathieu Tousignant.
After a scoreless second, the Checkers enjoyed a 7-1 shots advantage to start the third period before Cornet capitalized with his third goal since joining Charlotte via a November trade with San Antonio. Cornet started the play by pickpocketing former Checkers captain Bryan Rodney, now an Admirals defenseman, in Charlotte’s defensive zone. He then went straight to the net, scoring on his own rebound following a centering feed from Justin Shugg.
Cornet’s goal at the 6:18 mark of the third period caused the Admirals to pull Hellberg, who stopped 23 of 26 shots, in favor of former Checkers backup Scott Darling. Darling stopped all three shots he faced for the remainder of the game, with Milwaukee putting together a late flurry that the Checkers were able to fend off.
Muse, who was integral in holding off Milwaukee’s late attempts at a tying goal, remains the only Checkers goaltender to win a game since Oct. 5, the team’s second game of the season. He is now 11-7-0 while the other six goalies the Checkers have used this season – a number that will soon increase to seven with the Carolina Hurricanes assigning Anton Khudobin to Charlotte on a conditioning stint earlier Friday evening – are a combined 2-9-1.
Cornet also had an apparent first-period goal that would have tied the score at 2-2 much earlier. Just before Cornet made contact with a loose puck in the slot that would end up trickling through Hellberg’s pads, the referee had blown his whistle for an unspecified reason. No penalties resulted from the play.
The teams finished a combined 0-for-7 on the power play, with Charlotte’s franchise-record, 10-game streak with at least one power-play goal coming to an end. However, the Checkers have now gone five consecutive games without allowing a power-play goal (15-for-15), marking their longest streak of the season.
With the win, the Checkers improved to 2-1-0 against Milwaukee this season. The teams will not play again until the season’s penultimate game on April 18.