The Checkers' second game in Texas this season ended almost exactly in the same way as their first.
As was the case back on Oct. 14, the Stars defeated goalie Dan Ellis and the Checkers in the ninth round of a shootout, with Jerome Samson again scoring Charlotte's only goal during the extra session. The result ended the Checkers' winning streak at three games, though they will take one point back with them to San Antonio, where they face the Rampage on Sunday.
The shootout broke a scoreless 0-0 tie between the two teams, with Ellis making 31 saves to earn his second shutout of the season and eighth of his AHL career in the losing effort. The lack of goals before the shootout was in contrast to the earlier October meeting between the two clubs, which ended by a score of 4-3.
The game was the second time in Checkers history that a shootout proved necessary to break a 0-0 tie. On Feb. 18 of last season, Charlotte's John Muse eventually fell to the Chicago Wolves and goalie Eddie Lack despite a 32-save performance.
As was the case in the Checkers' second game of this season, Ellis stopped seven of nine shooters in the shootout but received only one goal of support. After Samson scored first in the second round, Matt Fraser, who finished second in the AHL with 37 goals last season, tied it up in round four. Ellis and Texas' Cristopher Nilstorp, who made 22 saves to record his second shutout in three days, then stood tall until the Stars' Toby Petersen, a veteran of 397 NHL games, iced it with a shot through Ellis' five hole in round nine.
The game marked the first time that the Checkers, who entered the game with the AHL's best offense with an average of 3.86 goals per game, have been shut out this season. They had scored four or more goals in nine of their previous 10 games.
During regulation and overtime, the Checkers narrowly avoided setting a franchise record for fewest shots in a single game as Texas out-shot them 31-22. Justin Faulk (in the first period) and Tim Wallace (in the third period) did hit one post each for Charlotte, which had only nine shots through the first two periods and was on pace to break its all-time low for shots in a game, an 18-shot outing in Grand Rapids on Nov. 5, 2011.
With the offense going uncharacteristically quiet, a funk that include an 0-for-4 showing for the league's No. 1 power play against the league's No. 30 penalty kill, Ellis was able to keep things going. The 32-year-old NHL veteran, who entered the game ranked fourth in the AHL with a .940 save percentage and tied for ninth with a 1.94 goals-against average, made several key stops, saving his best effort for a point-blank save with just 25 seconds remaining in regulation.
Meanwhile, Nilstorp's best work came when he couldn't quite corral the rebound of a Justin Faulk shot that hit the boards behind him and squirted out in front, leading to quick stops on Zac Dalpe and Bobby Sanguinetti in overtime.
Including tonight's loss, the Checkers are now 1-6 in their last seven shootouts dating back to last season. Over the course of their three AHL seasons, the Checkers have an overall record of 11-15.
Charlotte now travels back to San Antonio, the site of their 4-3 win on Friday, to conclude their latest three-in-three weekend. They then return to Charlotte just in time to catch a bus to Norfolk to conclude their four-game road swing on Wednesday.
Chris Terry's seven-game point streak, tied for the longest active streak in the AHL, came to an end, as did Faulk's five-game road assist streak, which was the longest in the AHL this season … Ellis fell to 8-4 all-time in AHL shootouts … Samson has scored on each of his last three attempts, improving his overall record to 3-for-5 … Zac Dalpe has not scored a shootout goal in 10 attempts over the last two seasons … Forward Justin Soryal played his second game of season and first since Oct. 28 … Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani missed the game with a lower-body injury … Forwards A.J. Jenks, Jared Staal and defenseman Tommi Kivisto were healthy scratches.
1. Christopher Nilstrop (Texas)
2. Dan Ellis
3. Toby Peterson (Texas)