The Checkers seemed to be headed to their second overtime game in three days. Zach Boychuk had other ideas.
The AHL’s reigning goal-scoring champion continued his recent resurgence by finding the back of the net with 1.6 seconds left in regulation to lift the Checkers to a 2-1 victory in Oklahoma City on Saturday. Phil Di Giuseppe scored the other goal and John Muse had 29 saves for Charlotte, which began a season-long, six-game road swing by winning its second consecutive game.
The Checkers, who entered the game with the AHL’s worst road record, have now won consecutive games on the road for the first time since Oct. 12-24. Coupled with Thursday’s 2-1 win over Grand Rapids, they have defeated the Western Conference’s top two teams in each of their last two games.
A slashing penalty by Oklahoma City’s Curtis Hamilton with 27 seconds left in regulation opened the door for the Checkers, who took full advantage when Boychuk corralled the puck after an offensive-zone faceoff win by Brody Sutter and fired home from the slot to seal the victory.
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The goal gave Boychuk 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists) in his last 13 games.
Oklahoma City’s opening goal also came on the man advantage. With just under five minutes remaining in the first period, Checkers defenseman Austin Levi made a good read to block a cross-ice pass in front of Muse’s crease but could not find the puck in time to clear it, giving prolific Barons defenseman Brad Hunt an opportunity to fire home.
1st Period-1, Oklahoma City, Hunt 15 (Ford, Miller), 15:55 (PP). Penalties-Biega Cha (elbowing), 3:21; C. Jones Okc (tripping), 9:04; McGinn Cha (slashing), 15:12; Yakimov Okc (holding), 16:46.
2nd Period-2, Charlotte, Di Giuseppe 8 (Sutter, Carrick), 6:17 (PP). Penalties-Robertson Cha (hooking), 0:24; Musil Okc (holding the stick), 5:51; Levi Cha (high-sticking), 17:40.
3rd Period-3, Charlotte, Boychuk 11 (Carrick, Sutter), 19:58 (PP). Penalties-Winquist Okc (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:50; Cornell Cha (interference), 10:03; C. Hamilton Okc (slashing), 19:33.
Shots on Goal-Charlotte 7-9-7-23. Oklahoma City 12-10-8-30. Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 2/5; Oklahoma City 1/5. Goalies-Charlotte, Muse 8-11-0 (30 shots-29 saves). Oklahoma City, Brossoit 20-14-1 (23 shots-21 saves). A.-2,999. Referees-Jamie Koharski (84), Terry Koharski (10). Linesmen-Trent Knorr (63), Randy Sappo (13).