Charlotte Checkers at Bakersfield Condors
The Checkers were able to earn a point thanks to late-game heroics by Lucas Wallmark and Michael Leighton but ultimately fell 3-2 to Bakersfield on Friday.

Trailing 2-1, Charlotte got a game-tying goal from Wallmark with 1:51 to go and a penalty shot save by Leighton with 21 seconds left on the clock to earn a point for the first time in their last six games. They were unable to earn the desired two, however, as the Condors’ Joey LaLeggia won it during the extra session.

The result halted Charlotte’s regulation losing streak at five, though its road winless streak of nine games (0-7-2) marks a new franchise record.

For the second time during its California road swing that ends Saturday in Ontario and has seen the Checkers post an 0-4-1 record thus far, Charlotte was able to erase a 2-0 deficit. This time, a second-period goal by Valentin Zykov and Wallmark’s late strike, aided by an excellent Sergey Tolchinsky setup, canceled out an opportunistic start by Bakersfield. The Condors had scored on two of their first three shots – a breakaway by Ryan Hamilton and a two-on-one effort by Taylor Beck – in the first period.

Unlike their earlier comeback that occurred last Saturday in Ontario, one that saw former captain Brett Sutter score in the final minute to rob the Checkers of a point, Leighton was able to preserve it thanks to his penalty shot save on Braden Christoffer. The play began when Checkers defenseman Klas Dahlbeck, who was making his team debut while on a conditioning stint from Carolina, slashed Christoffer on a shorthanded breakaway. It ended with a block by Leighton, who returned from Carolina earlier in the day but is likely to rejoin the Hurricanes for their game in San Jose on Saturday.

Leighton, who is now 6-2-2 as a Checker, finished the game with 23 saves.

The late-game drama was set up in part by Zykov’s team-leading seventh goal of the season, in which he calmly collected the rebound of an Andrew Poturalski point shot and deposited it past netminder Laurent Brossoit, who had shut out Charlotte exactly one week earlier. The goal ended the Checkers’ 0-for-32 skid on the power play and was their first on the man advantage since Nov. 22.

Following that goal on their first man advantage opportunity of the evening, Charlotte would go on to miss out on a minute-long, five-on-three chance to start the third period and their late-game window that ultimately resulted in Christoffer’s penalty shot chance.

NOTES

Tolchinsky, who scored the team’s lone goal in a Wednesday loss to Stockton, assisted on both goals tonight … The Checkers’ regulation losing streak ended at five games, which tied the third-longest streak of its kind in team history … Charlotte is now 2-9-2 in its last 12 games … During its eight-game road winless streak, the Checkers have just 10 total goals and have yet to score more than two in a single game. They are 1-12-2 when scoring two goals or fewer and 8-0-0 when scoring three or more in any game this season … Dahlbeck has an assist in his first AHL game since April 19, 2015 … Checkers forward Kris Newbury left the game after getting hit with a puck in the second period and did not return … Forwards Connor Brickley and Brendan Woods and defensemen Trevor Carrick and Haydn Fleury missed the game due to injury … Forward Clark Bishop and defenseman Kevin Raine were healthy extras.
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.

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