A battle between the Checkers’ two goaltenders from last season’s Calder Cup championship team did not disappoint, with holdover Alex Nedeljkovic narrowly edging his old backup in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.

Nedeljkovic made 22 saves to earn his second shutout in his last three outings and help hand Penguins counterpart Dustin Tokarski his first regulation loss with any team since Feb. 2. Nedeljkovic’s shutouts, the first of which was on Nov. 15, are also the two most recent wins for the Checkers, who tonight snapped a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) that matched their longest of the season.

Rookie defenseman Chase Priskie scored the game’s lone goal on the power play with just 4:23 remaining in regulation to seal the victory.

The result snapped a six-game winning streak for the Penguins, who secured the services of Tokarski, along with former Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci, during the offseason shortly following Charlotte’s championship victory. New Checkers coach Ryan Warsofsky also leaves with bragging rights over his brother David, a veteran Penguins defenseman and team captain.

This was the first of four meetings this season between the two squads, with one more match-up in Wilkes-Barre set to take place before the Penguins make their lone trip to Charlotte for games on Jan. 24 and 25.

After a slow start to the game, Charlotte seized control of the momentum midway through the first period, at one point taking 13 consecutive shots on goal and building a 22-8 shots advantage after two periods with nothing to show for it against Tokarski, who went 12-0-0 during his four-month tenure with the Checkers last season.

The Penguins would answer back to start the third period, with Nedeljkovic taking control as the home team took 14 shots against just five for the Checkers in the final frame.

On the back of those saves and five consecutive penalties killed by Charlotte, Priskie finally made the breakthrough with a rocket from the right circle that got the Checkers back in the win column as they prepare to head back home.

NOTES

Each of the Checkers’ last four games were decided by one goal … Nedejlkovic’s shutout was the 12th of his career, extending his own franchise record. He is one of 12 AHL goalies with at least two shutouts this season … Charlotte’s No. 1 ranked penalty kill went 6-for-6 on the night and has killed 41 of the last 42 opportunities … Priskie’s goal was his third of the season and first since Oct. 25 … Forward Stelio Mattheos missed the game due to injury … Forward Hunter Shinkaruk and defensemen Cavan Fitzgerald and Kyle Wood were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

Their five-game road trip now complete, the Checkers will have a short break before playing four home games in six days on either side of the Thanksigiving holiday. That stretch starts Tuesday against Cleveland.
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.