Goaltender Dustin Tokarski led the way with 40 saves, the most by a Checker in any game this season, to improve to 7-0-0 since joining the team on Feb. 28. Julien Gauthier scored a goal for the fourth straight game, marking the longest such streak by a Checker this season, and Tomas Jurco had the other Charlotte tally to extend his point streak to six games as Charlotte earned the sweep in its two-game trip to Cleveland.
After Gauthier stuffed home a loose puck on the doorstep of a first-period power play and Jurco tipped in Bobby Sanguinetti’s shot from the point near the midway point of the second, the Checkers, who have already secured the league’s best record, hung on to secure the full two points against a team fighting for the final playoff spot in the North Division. The game’s final shot total favored Cleveland by a 41-24 margin.
Having finished earlier than most other AHL teams, Charlotte will now wait to find out the identity of its first-round playoff opponent. That matchup will be determined on Saturday or Sunday.
The Checkers won 17 of their last 21 games of the regular season. They finished with 110 points by way of a 51-17-8 record … In addition to his perfect 7-0-0 record as a Checker, Tokarski also sports a 1.55 goals-against average and .955 save percentage with the team. Prior to tonight, the single-game saves record for this season was 34, which had been set by Alex Nedeljkovic on three occassions … Gauthier’s four-game goal streak is the longest of his career. He has seven goals in his last eight games … Jurco has eight points (4g, 4a) during his six-game streak … Martin Necas had two assists to mark his fifth consecutive two-point game … Bobby Sanguinetti had two assists for his first multi-point game of the season … Trevor Carrick left the game with six minutes remaining in regulation after taking a hard hit to the boards and did not return … Forwards Clark Bishop and Andrew Poturalski and defensemen Josiah Didier and Roland McKeown missed the game due to injury … Forward Scott Davidson and goaltender Scott Darling were healthy extras.
The Checkers' first-round playoff series will begin on the road at a to-be-determined time and place. Charlotte will host the remainder of the series at home beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday, April 24.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.