Back on home ice in front of a raucous crowd, the Checkers swung their opening-round series back in their favor with a decisive 3-0 win over Providence.

Charlotte flipped the script from Game 2 and jumped out of the gates with a strong start thanks to two of their top playoff performers. Andrew Poturalski opened the scoring midway through the frame with a highlight-reel toe drag through traffic, then Morgan Geekie doubled the lead minutes later with a stellar move of his own.

After the two sides played through a stalemate in the middle frame, the Checkers tacked on some insurance right away in the third, with Poturalski again showing patience and threading a shot past Zane McIntyre.

Providence’s offense never got a chance to get off the ground thanks to a strong performance from Alex Nedeljkovic. The reigning AHL Goalie of the Year denied all 20 shots he faced to stymie the Bruins and pick up his second career playoff shutout.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on the game
Obviously we played well. I thought our D played really well. Shep and Willy getting thrown in there without playing a playoff game yet, I thought they were really good and moved the puck well. Our D in general played well and our forwards helped them out.

Vellucci on getting out to an early lead
It was great. They had their chances early and then we stifled them pretty good. Potsy’s goal was pretty special. It was amazing. He had great patience with it, and I think he hit two or three crossbars after that. I thought that line played really well and that really everybody played good. It was a good, solid systems structured game and our penalty kill was outstanding. We had to kill five tonight and only had one power play.

Vellucci on Andrew Poturalski
I think he’s underestimated, and that’s what kind of frustrates me because I know how good he is and I want to make sure everybody else knows. My job is to get him to the next level, and I’m just really proud of him. He didn’t play much at the end there because of the injury and probably isn’t 100 percent, but he still gives us a big lift.

Vellucci on Morgan Geekie
He’s a first-year pro playing against everybody’s top line, is really good defensively and then has great hands. He’s really improved from the beginning of the year until now, and I see a lot of growth available with him too.

Poturalski on getting the shutout despite missing key defensemen
Having Bobby (Sanguinetti) and Trevor (Carrick) not in the lineup was tough and we have Roland (McKeown) out too so we were pretty depleted on the back end, but those guys came and filled their spots and stepped up huge. Everyone else kind of elevated their game a little bit, and to have that on our team is definitely huge. We’ve been a deep team all year, and whenever someone comes in and steps up that’s definitely big for us.

Poturalski on being patient on his two goals
That’s the style of game I like to play, to play smart with the puck and possess it as much as we can. I had a lot of space out there on both of those so I tried to use that to my advantage and luckily it went in.

Nedeljkovic on coming back home
You love playing at home, and we worked all year to get that home ice advantage. You could tell the crowd was into it, and when they’re into it you just want to play that much harder and win that much more for them. We fought hard and they didn’t make it easy, and it’s going to be a grind again on Friday night.

Nedeljkovic on the shutout
Those first two games, they scored in waves and it seemed like when they got one they were getting two. To put a zero up on the board tonight felt really good.

Nedeljkovic on the series
It’s a best of five for a reason. It would have been nice to get another win on the road there, but a split is good on the road and now we’ve just got to win our games at home. We started off right tonight and now we’ve got to do it again on Friday.

NOTES

Poturalski has seven points (3g, 4a) in three playoff games and 12 points (3g, 9a) in his last five games overall … Geekie is the only other Checker with points in every playoff game (3g, 1a) … Nedeljkovic recorded the second playoff shutout of his career … The Checkers improved to 40-0-0 when leading after two periods this season … Defenseman Trevor Carrick served the first of a three-game suspension, while defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti served his one-game suspension … Forwards Scott Davidson, Jacob Pritchard and Zack Stortini were healthy extras.

UP NEXT

The Checkers will have a chance to end the series in Game 4 on Friday at 7 p.m.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.