Saturday, February 15, 2014

Checkers winless streak stretched to five in Raleigh

The Checkers were hoping that the AHL All-Star break and a trip to play on the Hurricanes home ice would get them back on track, but on Saturday night that's not how things played out. 

Charlotte fell behind the West Division-Leading Abbotsford Heat during the second minute of the first period in front of 4,354 at PNC Arena in Raleigh and was forced to play catchup all game on their way to a 5-1 loss. 

The setback was the Checkers (22-24-2) fifth in a row (0-4-1) and dropped the team two games below the .500 mark on the season. Victor Rask scored the lone Charlotte goal midway through the second period on the power play. John Muse, who got the start in net, stopped 28 of 33 shots. 

After going 12-2-0 from mid-December through January, Muse has now dropped three consecutive starts, allowing 16 goals over 124 minutes of work. There's a good chance Mike Murphy -- the Checkers backup for the majority of the season -- gets the next start in net. 

The goal for Rask was his ninth of the season and first since Jan. 24. Ryan Murphy and Chris Terry were credited with the assists. 

Terry has not scored a goal in 13 games, tying the longest such drought in his career (set during the 2012-13 season). 

Nicolas Blanchard and Brendan Woods each dropped the gloves in defense of a teammate to give the crowd something to cheer about. 

Sean Dolan, Danny Biega, Justin Shugg and Rask led the Checkers with three shots on goal each. 

Jared Staal got back into the lineup for the first time since being injured on Jan. 3 and recorded two shots on goal. 

Any chance of a comeback in the third period was shot down by two Checkers penalties that led to two more Heat goals. Abbotsford, who outshot Charlotte 33-30, finished the night 2-for-4 on the man-advantage. 

The Heat (32-15-4) and Checkers will play again at PNC Arena tomorrow. The puck drop has been pushed back from 1:30 to 4 p.m.