The Checkers played their wildest game of the season and emerged victorious by out-lasting the Phantoms by a 7-4 score in Lehigh Valley on Saturday.
Nicolas Roy, who returned from the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week, led the way with three points, including the Checkers’ fifth and sixth tallies that helped his team pull away for good. His linemate Aleksi Saarela also had three points (1g, 2a) before having to leave the game due to injury in the third period.
Patrick Brown, Trevor Carrick, Nick Schilkey and Saku Maenalanen also scored for Charlotte, which improved to 1-1-0 on a three-games-in-three-nights set that will conclude Sunday afternoon in Bridgeport. The first-place Checkers also improved to 11-2-0 on the season.
This was the teams’ first meeting since the second round of last season’s playoffs, when Lehigh Valley knocked the Checkers out in five games. Again facing Phantoms netminder Alex Lyon, the Checkers scored two more goals against him in this game alone than they managed in four games, one of which went to five overtimes, in that playoff series.
The Checkers, who had not allowed more than three goals in a game before last night’s 4-3 loss in Binghamton, matched that feat in a first period that saw the teams combine for five goals in exactly five minutes. The Phantoms, who until that point had started slowly by allowing the Checkers to take the game’s first nine shots on goal, took a 3-2 lead to the initial intermission, only to see Charlotte score five of the next six goals to seal the victory.
Only one of tonight’s 11 goals came on the power play … Charlotte’s seven goals were a season high … Roy’s two goals and three points each tied his season highs set in the first two games of the season on Oct. 5-6 … Saarela’s three points (1g, 2a) were a season high … Janne Kuokannen picked up an assist to extend his point streak to six games (2g, 6a) … Maenalanen’s goal extended his point streak to four games (3g, 3a) … Martin Necas had two assists, giving him six points (1g, 5a) in his last five games … Schilkey’s goal was his first since Dec. 9 of last season, ending a 37-game drought … Forward Greg McKegg missed the game due to injury … Forward Zack Stortini and defenseman Michal Cajkovsky were healthy extras.
Charlotte jumps on an overnight bus ride to Bridgeport, where their 3 p.m. puck drop will be their third game in as many days.