The Checkers still hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five division semifinal, which continues with Game 4 on Monday.
A far cry from Game 2’s fireworks, Saturday’s tilt was a tightly contested, low-scoring affair. After a scoreless opening frame, the Checkers opened the scoring as Aleksi Heponiemi threw a puck on net that threaded through the Islanders netminder and into the back of the net.
That lead was short-lived for Charlotte, however, as Chris Terry converted a breakaway less than two minutes later to draw the game even. The two sides exchanged chances throughout the final frame, but it was the Islanders who eventually snagged the equalizer as Simon Holmstrom finished off an odd-man rush inside the final five minutes of play.
Holmstrom then launched one into the empty net as the Checkers pushed for the tying tally to extend the visitors' lead with less than one minute to go. Charlotte had one last push, though, as Connor Carrick knocked one in with 38 seconds remaining, but the home side couldn’t quite muster another as the series was extended.
It was a playoff game and we came up on the short end of the stick. It was a good hockey game. We made two mistakes that we don’t like, and they made no mistakes on their opportunities.
Kinnear on the low scoring total compared to last game
It was just tight checking. You look at most our games throughout the year (against Bridgeport) and they’re pretty tight. They’re a really experienced hockey group, and again we made two mistakes that you need to be able to learn from. Their experience ended up putting it in the back of the net.
Kinnear on the physical intensity increasing as the series goes on
It's supposed to. It’s supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be competitive and it’s supposed to be one-on-one battles. It’s what makes our game great and it’s what makes playoffs great. Embrace it, enjoy it and come out on the right end of the battle.