The Checkers’ early lead courtesy of a Valentin Zykov rebound conversion and a one-time blast from captain Patrick Brown in his return from injury were erased in the middle frame by a pushback from the visitors.
That deadlock didn’t last long, however, as Jake Bean threaded a quick wrister past Laval netminder Charlie Lindgren minutes later to push the Checkers back ahead. Aleksi Saarela padded Charlotte’s advantage late in the second with a snipe on the power play and that would be all the Checkers needed.
Alex Nedeljkovic weathered Laval’s final rally attempt to finish the game with 14 saves and pick up his AHL-leading 12th win of the season.
They got a lot of minutes. For Wes this was his first game in a long time because he was injured most of last year, so I thought he did really well actually. For Wes, he knows he’s got to keep it simple, make the easy play and play physical. He did a good job.
Vellucci on Patrick Brown returning to the lineup
It’s huge actually. I don’t think people realize it as much as the coaching staff does. He’s a leader, he’s vocal, he leads by example and he works extremely hard every shift. He drags everybody else into the play with him. It’s awesome to have him back for sure.
Patrick Brown on coming back to the lineup after missing six games
I felt great. My linemates were buzzing and that made it easy to get my feet back under me. We got a couple early, and that always feels good to get your legs going and your hands back.
Brown on how his team limited Laval’s chances
Just a strong offense. The best defense is a good offense. We were playing in their end most of the night, and when they were in our end we were tight, we were boxing out and letting Ned see the puck pretty well.
Aleksi Saarela on how Brown’s return helped
A lot. Brownie is a great guy in the locker room and he leads us off and on the ice. He’s probably the best captain I’ve ever had and I have huge respect for him.