October 22, 2011 8:42 PM
As much as the Checkers wanted to learn from their experience of one night earlier, it was short memories that helped them pull through in the end.
Shaking off the sting of allowing the winning goal to the visiting Houston Aeros with just four seconds left on the clock on Friday, the Checkers and goaltender Mike Murphy prevailed 2-1 in a shootout in Saturday night’s rematch despite allowing another late tally that tied the game in the final minute.
Although that goal, Joe DiSalvatore’s effort with 47 seconds left, would continue the Checkers’ season-long trend of letting leads slip away, this one came under different circumstances as it was not the result of an obvious lull by the home team.
“I’m not worried at all about that,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. “I thought we played really well for 65 minutes and they got a lucky bounce, but it was a goal that they earned.
“I give credit to the guys for bouncing back and not dwelling on (Friday’s game).”
Murphy, who finished with 24 saves in regulation and was a perfect five-for-five in the shootout, including a dramatic walk-off glove save to seal the win, was also dismissive of the previous night’s effort that saw him allow two goals on 11 shots in relief of injured starter Justin Peters.
“I wasn’t too worried about last night’s game, because you can only worry about things you can control,” he said. “I felt great coming into last night’s game, but that’s just the way things happen sometimes.”
The Checkers’ third period, which had statistically been their worst through the season’s first five games, was their best on Saturday. It saw the Checkers out-shoot Houston 14-7, starting with Faulk’s first professional goal in the first two minutes – a shot from the point that snuck its way just inside the near post behind otherwise-stellar Houston netminder Matt Hackett.
“To be honest I was just trying to get it on net,” said the 19-year-old Faulk, playing his second game with the Checkers after being assigned by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week. “It ended up going in, and obviously I’ll take it," he said.
Charlotte continued to apply pressure, out-shooting the Aeros 14-7 in the period and narrowly missing several chances to add to their lead – Drayson Bowman even had an attempt at the empty net blocked prior to Houston’s equalizer – but Houston got another stunning late goal when a shot took a fortuitous bounce off the boards behind Murphy and went right to Casey Wellman, who sent a quick pass in front to DiSalvatore.
“It was a weird play,” said Murphy. “The puck goes off the boards, then it’s just tic-tac-toe and it’s tied. “
Rather than experience another letdown – after allowing the first goal to Houston on Friday, the Checkers allowed another eight seconds later – the Checkers buckled down and had the better of the chances through overtime.
That momentum would carry into the shootout, with Terry finding the back of the net with a backhand-to-forehand deke to beat Hackett, his former teammate with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.
“I played with him in junior, so I know him pretty well,” said Terry. “It was fun to score on him and it will be fun to see him after.”
The move was the same one Terry used to score in last week’s eight-round shootout victory over the Peoria Rivermen.
“It seems to be working for me,” he said.
Terry, who led the Checkers in goal scoring with 34 last season, now has two more shootout goals than he has traditional goals thus far in the new campaign.
“He’s got a couple of assists here and there, but once he gets one goal, I think we’re going to see him take off,” said Daniels.
The Checkers will play their third home game in three nights on Sunday against the Norfolk Admirals. Though hockey schedules don’t get any more grueling than that, the Checkers may actually hold an advantage over their opponents, who in the same boat but with the added difficulty of travel.
“Both teams are in the same situation,” said Daniels. “ We’re going to have to grind it out, find a way to keep the shifts short and do all the little things to help us win.”
Fans voted Murphy the “Roll Up Your Sleeves Hardest Worker of the Game Presented by Community Blood Center of the Carolinas. For more information on the program, click here.
NOTES: Following the game, Daniels said that he expected Peters to return to practice on Tuesday. John Muse, recalled from Florida on Saturday morning, will remain with the team for Sunday’s game … The Checkers made one lineup change from Friday, scratching defenseman Rasmus Rissanen in favor of Justin Krueger … Charlotte is now 2-0 in shootouts this season, with Murphy and Peters each earning one victory … The Checkers have out-shot their opponent in each of their three victories, and are 0-2-1 in games in which they are out-shot … Jerome Samson recorded a game-high six shots on goal … Both teams finished 0-2 on the power play.