OKLAHOMA CITY The Checkers started strong, went into survival mode and ultimately came out on top in a hard-fought road victory to open the regular season in Oklahoma City.
After the home team rallied to erase a 2-0 deficit, Checkers center Brody Sutter scored with just more than five minutes remaining in regulation to seal a 3-2 victory in a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff opponents on Friday. Chris Terry, the Checkers’ leading scorer from last season, got things going by scoring on the team’s first shot of the season just 49 seconds into the game, while defenseman Mark Flood added another midway through the first period of his first-ever game with the team.
Justin Peters, a two-time AHL All-Star who returned to the lineup after spending the last two months of the 2012-13 campaign in the NHL, made 32 saves to earn the victory. The Checkers face the Barons again on Saturday night.
Sutter picked up where he left off last season against the Barons, scoring the decisive goal when defenseman Rasmus Rissanen curled around behind goalie Richard Bachman and found him all alone in the slot for the one-time finish.
The 22-year-old first showed signs of developing a more consistent offensive side to his game in last season’s playoffs, scoring twice in Game 1 of that series in Oklahoma City, including the overtime winner. After scoring six points in his first 27 AHL games, Sutter now has six points (3g, 3a) in his last six outings, all against the Barons.
Peters did his part to allow the Checkers and Sutter to strike the final blow, covering for a few breakdowns including a one-time chance midway through the third period. The Barons also hit a post with two minutes remaining as they narrowly missed a chance to send the game into overtime.
Following Saturday’s game, the Checkers are off for two entire weeks before they resume their schedule with their home opener against the Iowa Wild on Oct. 19.
1st Period-1, Charlotte, Terry 1 (Shugg, Corrente), 0:49. 2, Charlotte, Flood 1 11:51. Penalties-Corrente Cha (interference), 2:53; Fedun Okc (cross-checking), 8:00; Ewanyk Okc (slashing), 17:50.
2nd Period-3, Oklahoma City, Jones 1 (Martindale, Ford), 5:36. Penalties-Corrente Cha (roughing), 1:32; Ford Okc (roughing), 1:32; Jones Okc (goaltender interference), 1:32; Rissanen Cha (holding), 10:33; Tremblay Okc (hooking), 13:26.
3rd Period-4, Oklahoma City, Larsen 1 (Lander, Hunt), 6:42 (PP). 5, Charlotte, Sutter 1 (Rissanen), 14:44. Penalties-Corrente Cha (hooking), 3:29; Rissanen Cha (boarding), 5:09; Gernat Okc (high-sticking), 10:20.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 15-5-12-32. Oklahoma City 6-18-10-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 / 5; Oklahoma City 1 / 4.
Goalies-Charlotte, Peters 1-0-0 (34 shots-32 saves). Oklahoma City, Bachman 0-1-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Tom Chmielewski (43), Jamie Koharski (84).
Linesmen-John Grandt (98), Randy Sappo (13).
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