It would take two hands to count the Checkers’ quality scoring chances on Saturday, but just one finger to mark the number of opportunities they managed to cash in on.
With a chance to snap a three-game post-holiday losing streak, the Checkers sent pucks just wide, ricocheted them off goalie pads, and flipped them end-over-end inches above the crossbar.
The one place they failed send them often enough, was the back of the net.
And that lack of offensive cost Charlotte two points in the standings, as it fell, 4-1, to the Texas Stars in front of 7,133 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night.
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“It comes down to that we can’t score goals,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels, who team fell to 11-18-3-1 on the season. “You’re asking a lot for the goalies to keep it to one, or two goals, a night.”
With 72 goals in 33 games (2.18 per game) this season, the Checkers rank dead last in the AHL in scoring.
The loss dropped them 10 points behind the Stars (14-10-8) in the West Division.
“Every time you make a mistake, it’s magnified and you look at the four two-on-one breakaways (we had), and you get one goal,” continued Daniels. “You’re not going to win a lot of games scoring one goal.”
Justin Shugg helped Charlotte carry a 1-0 lead into the third period with his team-leading 11th goal of the season, but Texas – led by Brendan Ranford (two goals) – lit the lamp four times against John Muse (30 saves) in the game’s final frame to secure the victory in the first game of a back-to-back set with the Stars that will conclude on Sunday.
The quick two-game home stand split up road trips of three and four games for the Checkers, who went winless (0-2-1) on their post-holiday trip through Texas and Oklahoma City earlier in the week.
The loss was the fourth in as many games for Muse, who has started in net every game since the holiday for Charlotte, with Drew MacIntyre taking leave from the team to play for the Spengler Cup in Switzerland.
“We just didn’t execute,” said Muse, who has allowed 2.83 goals a game in 13 appearances this season. “Obviously, I have to be better. If we score one goal, it’s my job to shut the door and not let any goals in. I was pretty frustrated with that outcome.”
The two teams will take the ice again at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and figure some stuff out,” defenseman Danny Biega said.
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Stransky Tex (interference), 18:21.
2nd Period-1, Charlotte, Shugg 11 (Biega, Rissanen), 15:05. Penalties-Henderson Tex (roughing), 7:02; Woods Cha (roughing), 7:02; McGinn Cha (tripping), 9:26.
3rd Period-2, Texas, Ranford 6 (Meech), 1:41. 3, Texas, Smith 4 (Stransky, Henderson), 13:40. 4, Texas, Ranford 7 (Meech, Hulak), 15:30. 5, Texas, Faksa 4 18:05 (EN). Penalties-Hardowa Tex (high-sticking), 2:41.
Shots on Goal-Texas 12-9-13-34. Charlotte 8-8-9-25. Power Play Opportunities-Texas 0/1; Charlotte 0/2. Goalies-Texas, Rynnas 8-1-0 (25 shots-24 saves). Charlotte, Muse 2-7-0 (33 shots-30 saves). A-7,133. Referees-Jason Rollins (37), Fred Leblanc (30). Linesmen-Paul Carnathan (93), Terry Wicklum (58).