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Checkers survive Lake Erie’s rally, win 5-3

CLEVELAND After surrendering all of their early momentum, the Checkers grabbed it back at the last moment.

With three minutes remaining in regulation, Aaron Palushaj and Zach Boychuk scored 26 seconds apart to give the Checkers a 5-3 win against the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday. Boychuk had three goals for his second hat trick in his past three games and Cam Ward earned the victory for the Checkers, who led 3-0 before allowing the home team to tie the game in the third period.

Boychuk, who also had a goal disallowed, picked up his 100th AHL goal and crossed the 20-goal mark for the fourth consecutive AHL season.

Mark Flood scored Charlotte’s other goal.

Ward, playing for the second time in as many nights since joining the Checkers on a conditioning stint, made 24 saves to earn his first AHL victory since the 2004-05 season. Ward stopped 59 of 63 shots during back-to-back games.

Lake Erie tied the game on a glaring mental mistake by the Checkers, who didn’t realize Monsters scoring leader Mark Olver was one second away from leaving the penalty box as they lined up for an offensive-zone faceoff. Olver sneaked behind them for a breakaway goal.

But Palushaj streaked into the zone and pounced on a long rebound to give the Checkers the lead with 2:48 to play.

The Checkers now head to Abbotsford to face the Heat for the first time this season.

CHA212-5
LE021-3

1st Period-1, Charlotte, Flood 10 (Jenks, Woods), 8:44. 2, Charlotte, Boychuk 19 (Terry, Flood), 16:26. Penalties-Terry Cha (roughing), 5:21; Boychuk Cha (boarding), 14:19.

2nd Period-3, Charlotte, Boychuk 20 (Murphy), 11:04. 4, Lake Erie, Heard 2 (Desbiens, Sgarbossa), 12:31. 5, Lake Erie, Heard 3 (Desbiens, Sgarbossa), 18:03. Penalties-Desbiens Le (hooking), 3:17; Stollery Le (roughing), 4:23; Woods Cha (roughing), 14:20; Olver Le (roughing), 14:20.

3rd Period-6, Lake Erie, Olver 11 (Sgarbossa, Stollery), 11:35. 7, Charlotte, Palushaj 16 (Nemisz, Bro. Sutter), 17:12. 8, Charlotte, Boychuk 21 (Terry, Bre. Sutter), 17:38. Penalties-Corrente Cha (roughing), 3:37; Olver Le (holding the stick), 9:25; Malone Le (high-sticking), 14:41; Palushaj Cha (misconduct), 19:44; Malone Le (misconduct), 19:44; Corrente Cha (fighting), 19:55; Schumacher Le (fighting), 19:55.

Shots on Goal-Charlotte 6-10-9-25. Lake Erie 7-11-9-27. Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 0 / 4; Lake Erie 0 / 3. Goalies-Charlotte, Ward 1-1-0 (27 shots-24 saves). Lake Erie, Pickard 11-12-3 (25 shots-20 saves).

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