The Checkers found themselves down by one heading into the final five minutes of regulation and pulled netminder Alex Nedeljkovic for an extra attacker. They continued to apply pressure on the Senators until Aleksi Saarela found the back of the net, evening the score and sending the contest to overtime.
Both teams traded chances in the extra frame, including a crucial kill by the Checkers, and in the final minute of play Martin Necas broke up the right side before cutting across the crease and beating Filip Gustavsson to secure two points for the first-place Checkers.
That marked the second tally of the night for the rookie, as he wired a wrister late in the first to tie the score at one.
We moved him to the wing tonight where there was a little less responsibility defensively, and I think that just freed up his mind to be able to show his skill and his offensive ability. It was a good first day on the right wing and he was able to get some big goals for us.
Vellucci on Aleksi Saarela
He’s a goal scorer and we’ve got to make sure that he’s put in positions to score goals. We had pressure there for probably 30 seconds with three minutes left and decided to pull the goalie at that time, and then we kept in there for almost a minute and a half or two minutes and got a lot of scoring chances. We just stayed with it, tired them out and got back to what we do best, which is battle and compete every shift.
Vellucci on responding from yesterday’s loss
The point I’d make to the guys is that you can’t just turn it on and off and think you’re just going to play this shift or play this game. You’ve got to play every game. We turned it off yesterday and turned it on today, but it took us a while to get going. You’ve got to make sure you have it on all the time.
Martin Necas on his performance
I switched to the wing today, and it was a much better game for us today than yesterday. Yesterday was brutal. That’s the way to play, and we played much better today.
Necas on this game vs. last night’s game
No one was happy. It was so far our worst game and that happenes sometimes. We had two days off and we were just kind of slow everywhere. We showed that we can show up and play better.
Aleksi Saarela on scoring important goals lately
For me it’s just confidence. The goalie looks a little bit smaller when you’ve got confidence and it’s easier to put the puck in the net. I’ve just got to work hard and earn that confidence.
Saarela on his team bouncing back
I think we’re such a good team that we knew right after the game right away. It was pretty quiet and everyone knew that we were terrible. We showed today that we can push back, and I think we deserved the win today.