After a deadlocked first frame, the Checkers struck twice in quick succession during the second to distance themselves from the visitors. Patrick Brown punched home a loose puck in front for a power-play tally to put Charlotte ahead, then 28 seconds later Julien Gauthier finished off a feed from Clark Bishop on an odd-man rush to push their advantage to two goals.
The Devils mounted a comeback attempt in the third, cashing in on their second shorthanded-breakaway goal of the night to move within one, the Checkers held strong, led by a 23-save performance by Alex Nedeljkovic.
Aleksi Saarela deposited a puck into the empty net in the waning moments of the third and that would be the final nail in the coffin, with the Checkers skating away to a 4-2 victory.
I thought we started off pretty good and then got real sloppy. Obviously giving up two shorthanded goals is unacceptable, but we did score one power-play goal. We started off good and then got a little loose in our game.
Vellucci on the shorthanded goals
There were a couple of turnovers and then not tracking. You’ve got to anticipate it if the D is in trouble and then get back.
Vellucci on having a lead going in to the third
You go up two going in to the third, and we haven’t given up any leads like that. It’s a big goal that Gauth scored but to be honest with you before that Ned made a huge save that could have tied it at 2-2, and then we go down and score on the two-on-one. It’s a matter of inches, and we got a big save when we needed it.
Julien Gauthier on how to keep positive momentum going
Just keep working. All the guys want to win. We’ve added some good players here and we’re preparing for a good playoff run. Everybody’s just putting the effort in to try to win every game.
Gauthier on holding the lead in the third period
It’s a tight game and they want to win too. They know we’re a good team and they’re going to push hard and I think we just stuck to it. Everybody was playing good defense and we were also playing really good in the offensive zone, so it’s tough for them to control us.
Gauthier on not taking teams lightly
It doesn’t matter if they’re first or last. They could surprise us, but you don’t want that to happen. You don’t want to send a message to the league that teams that are below us can beat us. You want to ready and just focus.