What looked like an easy victory for the Checkers turned into 4,913 Charlotte fans holding their breaths as the final 60 seconds ticked slowly off the clock on Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
After taking a 4-1 lead four minutes and 58 seconds into the third period, Charlotte goaltender John Muse suffered a leg injury and had to leave the game. This opened the door for the Norfolk Admirals, who had only put one of their 27 shots in the back of the net to that point.
On the Admirals’ third shot against Muse’s replacement, Mike Murphy, Norfolk cut the lead to two. Eight and a half minutes later, the Admirals scored again, setting up a tense final minute of play before the game finally ended 4-3 in favor of the Checkers.
“I’m not crazy about the goals against,” said Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels, whose squad won its second in a row. “I thought we made it more interesting than it should have been.”
Murphy stopped 10 of the 12 shots he faced, but looked far from steady during his second straight outing.
Asked if he felt the injury changed the game’s momentum, Daniels kept his reply short.
“Yeah,” he said.
Pushed to explain, Daniels added, “We’ll just leave it at that.”
On the offensive side, the Checkers (24-24-2) turned in a solid performance, with Chris Terry (1 goal, 1 assist), Michal Jordan, Zach Boychuk (1 goal, 2 assists) and Sean Dolan each finding the back of the net.
After a scoreless first period in which the Checkers outshot the Admirals 14-7, Charlotte successfully carried momentum into the second period, scoring three goals to take a 3-1 advantage entering the third.
Terry got the scoring started during a Checkers power play with his third goal in the past two games, with Boychuk and Aaron Palushaj assisting.
First Period – No Scoring. Penalties – Gagne Nor (high-sticking), 0:12; Ezekiel Nor (fighting), 3:21; Corrente Cha (fighting), 3:21; Corrente Cha (interference), 15:38.
Second Period – 1, Charlotte, Terry 17 (Palushaj, Boychuk), 1:49 (PP). 2, Charlotte, Jordan 3 (Boychuk, Bre. Sutter), 9:08. 3, Charlotte, Boychuk 23 (Murphy), 14:58 (PP). 4, Norfolk, Smith-Pelly 18 (Whitney, Rakell), 16:23. Penalties – Exelby Nor (roughing), 1:40; Corrente Cha (interference), 2:44; Palushaj Cha (tripping), 11:13; Wagner Nor (slashing), 14:36.
Second Period – 5, Charlotte, Dolan 1 (Terry, Shugg), 4:58. 6, Norfolk, Smith-Pelly 19 (Etem, Friberg), 7:56 (PP). 7, Norfolk, Smith-Pelly 20 (Rakell, Etem), 16:29. Penalties – Marquardt Cha (hooking), 6:20.
Shots on Goal – Norfolk 7-15-18-40. Charlotte 14-12-17-43.
Power Play Opportunities – Norfolk 1 / 4; Charlotte 2 / 3.
Goalies – Norfolk, Thiessen 2-2-2 (43 shots-39 saves). Charlotte, Muse 17-11-0 (28 shots-27 saves); Murphy 4-7-0 (12 shots-10 saves).
A – 4,913
Referees – Jason Rollins (37), Steve Patafie (85).
Linesmen – Jesse Pletsch (51), Zachary Thornton (78).
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