Amid what was a mostly quiet night for both teams offensively, Charlotte’s late flurry ultimately came short thanks to 31 total saves by Richard Bachman in a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma City. With the win, the Barons have come from behind and are now level with Charlotte in the Western Conference standings while also holding the tiebreaker with one fewer game played.
The loss continues a damaging two-day stretch for Charlotte, which entered the three-in-three weekend that concludes with a Sunday rematch against the Barons in eighth place. Two consecutive losses, combined with wins by most of the teams they needed to lose, have dropped them to 10th with five games remaining in the regular season.
Bachman, who won a duel with John Muse (34 saves) and became the third goaltender to hold the Checkers off the score sheet this season, was sharp when needed for the majority of the game and then stellar when the visitors set up shop in front of him down the stretch. With the Barons unable to clear the zone for long stretches, Bachman made a string of key saves as the Checkers continued to throw pucks at the net with hopes of an equalizer that never came.
The Barons’ defense, which entered the game ranked 29th in the AHL with an average of 3.45 goals allowed per game, also did an excellent job of blocking several promising chances that never made it to the net.
The game’s only goal came when the Checkers got into penalty trouble by taking three minor penalties in seven minutes on either side of the first intermission. After killing the first two against the AHL’s third-best power play, Charlotte finally gave up a goal to C.J. Stretch with Jared Staal in the box for hooking at the 3:42 mark of the second period.
The Checkers, who entered the game with the league’s second-best power play, went 0-for-2 on the night. Oklahoma City out-shot the Checkers 35-31, not including a pair of hit goal posts in the first and second periods, with the Checkers making it close by way of a 14-8 advantage in the third period.
Having lost 5-2 in San Antonio while the Barons were off Friday, the Checkers conclude their busy weekend and their 12-game season series against the Barons with Sunday’s 5 p.m. start. Charlotte is now 8-2-1 against Oklahoma City this season, with each of the last four games decided by one goal.