Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Checkers fall 3-2 in battle of NHL goaltenders


Viktor Fasth won the battle of NHL goaltenders on conditioning stints on Wednesday night, out dueling the Checkers' Justin Peters on the way to a 3-2 win for the Norfolk Admirals at Scope Arena.

Despite seven power-play opportunities for the Checkers (24-26-2), Fasth -- who has a career record of 17-8-3 (2.32 goals against average) in two seasons with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks -- needed just 22 saves to record the win. 

Peters, who made his second start since rejoining the Checkers, stopped 21 of 24 Admirals' (29-17-7) shots. 

Philippe Cornet put Charlotte on top early with his ninth goal of the season 1:35 into the first period. However, Norfolk countered with the game's next three goals, with Antoine Laganiere (8:32 into the second), John Kurtz (19:14 into the second) and Rickard Rakell (6:08 into the third while on the man advantage) doing the honors. 

Rakell's goal, which was his 13th of the season, wound up being the game-winner after a Chris Terry shot deflected off Brett Sutter and into the back of Fasth's net with 3:22 remaining in regulation. 

The goal came on a power play that began with 4:20 to play in regulation after Dave Steckle was hit with a double-minor for high-sticking. 

With two minutes still remaining on the man advantage after Sutter's seventh goal of the season, the Checkers were unable to capitalize. They finished the game 1-for-7 on the power play. 

Defenseman Ryan Murphy picked up assists on both of the Checkers goals to extend his current point streak to eight games. He now has 14 assists in 12 games since joining up with Charlotte. 

With the loss, the Checkers -- who mustered just 12 shots through the first two periods on Wednesday -- saw their GEICO Challenge Cup points advantage over Norfolk drop to 8-6, with the home team winning all six games. 

Three games into their franchise-record 10-game road trip things aren't looking great for the Checkers (0-2-1), who now head to Hershey to take on a Bears (29-19-3) team that currently sits just one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Notes: The loss kept Charlotte seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with just 23 games remaining. ...  Ryan Murphy is just one game shy of tying the longest point streak posted by a Checker this season (Chris Terry holds the current mark with a nine-game stretch back in October). ... Greg Nemisz (skating during non-contact drills in practice), Brendan Woods (out 4-6 weeks) and John Muse (limited in practice) missed the game due to injury. ... Defenseman Keegan Lowe was a healthy extra.

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