It may have taken longer than 60 minutes, but a Connor Brickley tally in overtime pushed the Checkers to a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five first-round series against Chicago.
Heading beyond regulation for the first time this postseason, it wasn’t until nearly the halfway mark that someone broke through, with the endlessly clutch Brickley backhanding a rebound out front over the shoulder of Ville Husso and in, clinching Charlotte’s 4-3 win and giving them control of the series.
The Checkers’ momentum from the end of Game 2 carried over into Sunday’s contest and they were able to turn a strong start into a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. Philip Samuelsson kicked the scoring off in the final five minutes of the frame, ripping a slap shot from the point that wormed its way through traffic and in, followed by a last-minute tally from the red-hot Andrew Miller, who threaded a wrister under the arm of Husso to extend the lead.
The Wolves wouldn’t roll over, however, and quickly evened the score in the second, with AHL MVP Kenny Agostino and Game 2 hero Adam Musil each lighting the lamp in the first two minutes of the period. Both sides would see waves of pressure in the middle frame, totaling 32 shots between them, but no more goals would be scored, and the game would progress to the third deadlocked at two.
There was another flurry of offense to start the third period, with Checkers captain Patrick Brown picking up some loose change in front to build another lead for the visitors, but it was again quickly erased, this time by a wrister from Ty Loney, drawing the game even for the second time. This tie would survive, however, pushing the game to overtime, where Brickley would continue his streak of game-winning goals and give the Checkers a chance to clinch the series Tuesday.
Today was the fifth playoff game in Checkers history to end in overtime and the fourth overtime win in franchise history … The Checkers are now 3-2 all time in Game 3 … The Checkers have no earned at least a point in 11 of their last 12 road games dating back to the regular season … Connor Brickley, who led the team with six game-winning goals during the regular season, netted his first game-winner in 11 career postseason games … Andrew Miller scored for the third consecutive playoff games, tying the franchise record for the most goals in a single playoff series … Lucas Wallmark recorded a point in his third straight playoff game, bringing his total to a team-best five … Tom McCollum set a career playoff-high with 38 saves … Hurricanes’ draft pick Janne Kuokkanen made his pro debut … Jake Bean and Erik Karlsson missed the game due to injury … Brendan Woods, Sergey Tolchinsky, Tyler Ganly, Kris Newbury, Daniel Altshuller and Clark Bishop were healthy extras
The Checkers and Wolves will square off Tuesday in Chicago at 8 p.m. for Game 4, with a trip to the next round on the line for Charlotte, who leads 2-1 in the best-of-five series.