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Checkers regroup, rally for OT win

RALEIGH A day after being embarrassed at PNC Arena, the Charlotte Checkers celebrated on the ice Sunday.

Brett Sutter’s overtime goal gave the Checkers a 5-4 victory against the Abbotsford Heat, washing away some of the pain of a miserable loss Saturday.

Chris Terry had a pair of goals and an assist and Justin Shugg a goal and assist for Charlotte, the Carolina Hurricanes’ American Hockey League affiliate. Shugg also assisted in another way.

The Checkers, who ended a four-game winless streak, were beaten 5-1 Saturday at PNC Arena by the Heat and trailed 4-1 after the first period Sunday. At the first intermission, Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said he let the players do most of the talking.

Every player had his turn, but Terry said Shugg’s words got everyone’s attention.

“He’s been on many championship teams,” Terry said. “He said we weren’t a team, that we’d been playing like a bunch of individuals. I think everybody knew that deep down but everyone needed a reality check and someone had to say it.”

Terry and Shugg scored 20 seconds apart in the second period as the Checkers (23-24-1-1), who had a 42-32 edge in shots, pulled within 4-3. Terry’s power-play goal early in the third tied it, and Terry was denied a hat trick when he fanned on a penalty shot with 12 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third.

Mike Murphy steadied after the first, finishing with 28 saves, and benefitted from some tighter defense.

Brody Sutter just missed on a shot that would have won it for Charlotte with one second left in regulation, but cousin Brett Sutter banged in a shot at 1:53 of overtime. Aaron Palushaj had the Checkers’ first-period goal against the Heat (32-15-4-1), the AHL’s Western Conference leader, and Ryan Murphy and Zach Boychuk each had two assists.

“I think everybody gets to take a breath of fresh air,” Brett Sutter said. “When you’re on a skid it weighs on you mentally. Tonight we found a way and it feels really good.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip
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