Former Baron Philippe Cornet scored the winner with 1:36 remaining in regulation as the Checkers took a 2-1 victory and swept a two-game road trip against their West Division rivals. John Muse made 36 saves, including several key stops down the stretch, while A.J. Jenks scored his second of the season and Aaron Palushaj picked up two primary assists.
With the win, the Checkers improved to 4-0-0 against the Barons this season, with all four wins coming on the road. They now have a 10-2-0 record in 12 all-time trips to Oklahoma City over the last three seasons.
The goal gave Cornet 13 points (5g, 8a) in 20 games since joining the Checkers in a November trade with San Antonio. The 23-year-old forward spent the previous three seasons with Oklahoma City, playing a total of 173 games with the Barons from 2010-2013.
On the shift prior to Cornet’s goal, Muse made what ended up being a game-saving stop from in close as the third period opened up considerably following a slow offensive start for both teams. The only goal that beat him was somewhat of a lucky bounce, with the Barons’ Martin Gernat opening the scoring when his initial shot pinballed off as many as three players in the slot before falling back on his stick.
With the win, Muse improved to 12-8-0 this season while dropping his goals-against average to 2.52.
Palushaj, who entered the game as the Checkers’ scoring leader, also had a hand in Jenks’ goal, a power-play strike that tied the game in the second period. Justin Shugg started the play with a rush down the right wing, taking a shot that Bachman blocked into the corner before Palushaj found Jenks on the doorstep.
With another multi-point night, Palushaj now has 18 (4g, 14a) in his last 13 games. His 22 assists lead the team and are at least eight more than any other Charlotte skater. Jenks, who rejoined the team on a professional tryout contract last month, has four points (2g, 2a) in his last five games.
Aside from the goals, most of the game’s prime scoring chances resulted in hit posts. Oklahoma City’s Roman Horak first drew iron on a four-minute power play in the first period – one that saw Charlotte nearly score on a breakaway by Jenks and a two-on-one break with Palushaj and Chris Terry. Checkers forward Matthew Pistilli also hit a post in the third, just before the Barons did the same on a delayed high-sticking penalty to Palushaj with four minutes left.
Charlotte played the majority of the game without forward Nicolas Blanchard, who went to the dressing room late in the first period and did not return. Three Checkers forwards – Sean Dolan, Greg Nemisz and Jared Staal – already missed the game due to injury, as did defenseman Danny Biega.
Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter, two forwards reassigned from Carolina earlier in the day, did not travel to Oklahoma City for this game and will instead meet the team when it returns to Charlotte.
Winners of three straight games, the Checkers now prepare to begin a three-games-in-three-days set with a match-up against the Texas Stars on Friday. Following that, they welcome the Barons to Charlotte as the teams continue their 12-game season series.