One game after scoring a season-high nine goals, the Checkers were shut out for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday. In his first game since the Carolina Hurricanes sent him on a conditioning stint, Ward made 35 saves as Charlotte’s winning streak ended at four games.
Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard stopped all 33 shots he faced to become the first goalie to record a shutout against the Checkers since April 6 of last season and give the Monsters back-to-back wins after suffering through an eight-game winless streak. It was a measure of family revenge as his brother, Oklahoma City Barons goalie Chet Pickard, allowed nine Checkers goals on 47 shots exactly one week earlier.
The game began the four-game season series between the two teams that continues with a rematch on Saturday.
Charlotte did not look to be a serious threat to find that goal until the final frame, having not tested Pickard with regularity through a penalty-filled first two periods. The game began with three penalties in the game’s first three-and-a-half minutes, including a double-minor for high sticking to rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy, and continued in much of the same fashion throughout the night as the game never developed much flow.
The Checkers, who tied a franchise record by scoring five power-play goals in their last game and entered this contest ranked second in the AHL, finished 0-for-6 on the man advantage. They also killed all eight Lake Erie chances, a total that marked the most given up by the Checkers in a single game since Feb. 11, 2012.
The start of the third period offered some promise for Charlotte, whose 16 shots in that frame came just one shy of matching their total from the first two periods. The first line of Zach Boychuk, Brett Sutter and Chris Terry got things going with a high-pressure shift that resulted in a Lake Erie penalty and the Checkers’ best power play of the night, but Pickard responded with a string of tough saves.
After that flurry, the game evened out considerably, with the Checkers unable to find the equalizer with Ward pulled for the extra attacker late.
With the loss, Charlotte fell to 3-3-3 in their all-time series against the Monsters. They have only one victory in five games at Lake Erie’s Quicken Loans Arena.