Similar to the previous night, the game was a back-and-forth affair to start, with the teams trading goals up to a 2-2 tie early in the third. But a critical power play in the final frame led to the Wolves taking a lead midway through and never letting go, riding things out to a 4-2 win thanks to an empty netter.
The story of the game was Charlotte’s penalty woes. The Checkers took eight minor penalties throughout the night, including two in the third that led to deciding goals for Chicago.
“The calls weren’t going our way because we did a lot of stupid things,” said head coach Ulf Samuelsson. “That’s what happens when you do a lot of stupid things. We made some uncharacteristic decisions. Our sticks were up and our hands were up when we were hitting and we were taking big slashes. Our discipline wasn’t good today.”
“Everything gets out of rhythm,” said Samuelsson. “A lot of players get cold and some other players get overworked. We definitely have to deal with the discipline issue here in the next few days.”
“When you get into a lot of special teams battles there are a good amount of guys on each team that are sitting on the bench and waiting for their time to come,” said Ryan Murphy. “There were a lot of discipline problems, myself included, and we can’t play like that if we want to win.”
The Checkers offense, which has been up and down as of late, peppered Chicago with 40 shots on goal but couldn’t solve Jordan Binnington down the stretch. Recently assigned Phil Di Giuseppe, who accounted for 10 of those on his own, has been a nice spark for the top end of a depleted Charlotte offense but knows there’s work to be done.
“The guys I’m playing with are smart players,” said Di Giuseppe. “They’re kind of getting it done and finding a way to score and I’m trying to do the same. I think we could have done better and scored more. I think we’ve got to bear down and do more for our team.”
The loss marked the first at home for the Checkers after they rattled off five consecutive wins to start the season, including an impressive last-minute win just one night ago against this same Chicago team.
“I think we were more hungry last night,” said Murphy. “We came out last night, stuck to the game plan, got pucks in and got our forecheck going, whereas tonight we were a little too cute at times. In my opinion the game was won and lost in the neutral zone.”
The nature of facing teams in back-to-back situations can be tough, as the resilient Chicago Wolves proved tonight.
“Anytime you play a team twice in a row it’s tough to get two wins, especially against a skilled team like Chicago that will make you pay if you’re not smart on the ice,” said Murphy. “We’ve got Iowa coming up now and we’ll just have to take it shift by shift and see where it that takes us.”
With a rough stretch in their rear view, moving past tonight and securing those four points during the weekend is the chief priority for the Checkers.
“We’ve just got to get it done, no excuses,” said Di Giuseppe. “Nothing more to it. We’ve been losing too much lately. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”