Hockey

Checkers keep pouring on goals vs. Marlies to take AHL Eastern finals lead

Checkers Haydn Fleury details what team must do against Marlies

Charlotte Checkers Haydn Fleury discusses what the team needs improve on following their Game 1 loss to the Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference Finals at Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte, NC on Friday, May 17, 2019.
Up Next
Charlotte Checkers Haydn Fleury discusses what the team needs improve on following their Game 1 loss to the Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference Finals at Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte, NC on Friday, May 17, 2019.

The Charlotte Checkers picked up Tuesday where they left off Saturday night, pummeling the host Toronto Marlies 5-1 in Game 3 of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference finals.

The victory gives the Checkers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series and restored home-ice advantage for Charlotte. The Checkers lost that edge when they dropped the series opener to Toronto on Friday.

Game 4 will be Thursday night in Toronto.

Charlotte rallied from a 3-0 deficit Saturday and outscored the Marlies 5-0 over the final 32 minutes.

It was more of the same Tuesday. The Checkers survived a two-man Toronto power play in the second period and outscored the Marlies in the third period despite being badly outshot.

In fact, between the early part of the second period Saturday night and the closing minutes Tuesday evening, the Checkers outscored Toronto 10-0. The Marlies had gone 8-0 in the playoffs before losing Saturday in Charlotte.

The Checkers broke in front 1-0 at the 8:28 mark of the first period on defenseman Trevor Carrick’s slap shot. They made the score 2-0 a few minutes later, when Tomar Jurco, standing in front of the Marlies’ goal, tipped in a shot by Patrick Brown.

Second and third efforts from Andrew Poturalski gave Charlotte a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Poturalski kept digging at the loose puck in front of the Toronto goal and finally flicked it past Marlies goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo.

The Checkers extended their lead to 4-0 at the 8:57 mark of the third period when Brown scored on Martin Necas’ nifty pass. Necas was skating in on the Toronto goal on the right side but flicked a pass in front of the net to Brown, who was undefended on the left side.

Morgan Geekie’s slap shot made the score 5-0 with 4:37 remaining, and the Marlies averted a shutout when Mason Marchment scored with 2:10 remaining.

3 who mattered

Patrick Brown, Charlotte: The Checkers’ captain assisted on the team’s first two goals, then got Charlotte’s fourth goal in the third period.

Alex Nedeljkovic, Charlotte: Nedeljkovic made two brilliant second-period saves and helped the Checkers kill off a 5-on-3 Toronto power play. He saved 32 of Toronto’s 33 shots.

Trevor Carrick, Charlotte: Carrick got the Checkers’ first goal and assisted on the fourth.

Worth mentioning

Toronto had a 5-on-3 advantage in the second period, after the Checkers’ Clark Bishop and Brown received two-minute penalties. The Marlies got four shots but didn’t score.

Charlotte outscored Toronto 2-1 in the third period, despite the Marlies outshooting the Checkers 15-5. Nedeljkovic made several big saves in the closing 20 minutes.

Poturalski’s goal gave him a franchise-record 15 points in the playoffs.

The Checkers once again did a good job of shutting down the Toronto power play. The Marlies had converted on 40 percent of their power-play chances in the first two rounds of the playoffs but went 1-for-7 Tuesday night. The Checkers’ power play also didn’t fare well – 0-for-4.

Toronto is considered the hockey capital of Canada, but the turnout Tuesday night at Coca Cola Arena – 6,259 – was smaller than at either of the series’ first two games in Charlotte. To be fair, the Checkers’ home games were on weekend dates.

What’s next?

Game 4 will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in Toronto, with Game 5 at 7 p.m. Friday. Then the series would return to Charlotte for Games 6 (7 p.m. Sunday) and 7 (7 p.m. next Tuesday).

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

  Comments