Without their leading scorer, one of their top defenseman and one of their hottest offensive threats, the Charlotte Checkers were going to need 60 minutes from everyone healthy enough to hold a stick on Wednesday night.
And that’s what they got.
Drew MacIntyre turned away 40 shots on net, a third-period penalty shot, and six shootout attempts to help the Checkers extend their home-winning streak to a season-long four games with a 3-2 shootout victory over the San Antonio Rampage in front of 3,056 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Second-year defenseman Danny Biega netted the Checkers’ lone goal in the shootout, with Zach Boychuk recording a goal and an assist, and Trevor Carrick netting his fifth of the season in the short-handed win.
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The Checkers (22-29-5-1) were without the help of the injured Chad LaRose (upper body) and his team-high 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) this season, as well as blue-liner Keegan Lowe (undisclosed), and red-hot rookie left wing Brock McGinn (suspension).
“This is our team and what we have right now and we’ve got to make it work,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. “Tonight, we made it work.”
The win was the Checkers’ second in a row without LaRose, who was injured during a practice last week and may miss the remainder of the season.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the sport of hockey,” said Biega of losing LaRose. “A lot of injuries happen and that was a fluke. It is what it is. We definitely miss him out there but that just means other guys have to step up and make up for his absence.”
Boychuk, who now has seven points (5g, 2a) in his last eight games, got the Checkers’ scoring started in the first with a power-play goal and then assisted on Carrick’s slapper to give Charlotte a 2-1 edge five minutes into the second period.
However, the Rampage, which entered Wednesday as the second-highest scoring team in terms of goals-per game in the AHL, rallied to tie the score with eight minutes to play in the third.
MacIntyre stood on his head for the remainder of the game, stopping a Rocco Grimaldi penalty shot with just under four minutes to play and then all six Rampage shootout attempts to pave the way for Biega.
“It’s funny,” said MacIntyre, who won for the second time in nine starts. “A group of us were talking just a couple days ago and I said that I would put (Biega) in the shootout 100 percent. I guess I looked good tonight.”
The Checkers and Rampage will get right back on the ice again on Thursday at 7 p.m. to conclude their two-game set. Charlotte is now 2-2-2 against San Antonio this season.
1st Period- 1, Charlotte, Boychuk 9 (Di Giuseppe, Carrick), 4:55 (PP). Penalties-Heatley Sa (tripping), 4:07.
2nd Period- 2, San Antonio, Grimaldi 10 (Howden), 5:25. Penalties-Megan Sa (fighting), 11:41; Cornell Cha (fighting), 11:41; Dolan Cha (holding), 12:07; Grimaldi Sa (tripping), 19:14.
3rd Period- 3, Charlotte, Carrick 5 (Sutter, Boychuk), 3:26. 4, San Antonio, O’Brien 10 (Butler), 12:22 (PP). Penalties-Schmitz Cha (holding), 11:58.
OT - No Scoring. Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout - San Antonio 0 (Grimaldi NG, Mancari NG, Butler NG, Heatley NG, Megan NG, Knight NG), Charlotte 1 (Aleardi NG, Sutter NG, Shugg NG, Di Giuseppe NG, Boychuk NG, Biega G).
Shots on Goal-San Antonio 13-16-9-4-0-42. Charlotte 10-10-11-3-1-35. Power Play Opportunities- San Antonio 1-2; Charlotte 1-2. Goalies-San Antonio, Houser 9-8-1 (34 shots-32 saves). Charlotte, MacIntyre 15-19-1 (42 shots-40 saves).
Referees - Evgeny Romasko (6), Dave Lewis (46). Linesmen - Charlie O’Connor (29), Steve Walsh (85).