Sunday, February 16, 2014

Terry, Sutter and Shugg lead Checkers to OT win in Raleigh

One period into Sunday afternoon's matchup with the Abbotsford Heat it looked as though the Checkers were on their way to a second consecutive loss in front of the Hurricane's brass at PNC Arena in Raleigh and sixth straight overall. 

The Heat, who had already defeated the Checkers on three separate occasions this season -- including a 5-1 loss on Saturday -- held a 4-1 advantage and seemed to be rolling. 

However, four unanswered goals by Chris Terry (in the second period and early in the third), Justin Shugg, and Brett Sutter in overtime sent Abbotsford out of town shaking its head following a 5-4 loss. 

Terry, who finished the game with three points (2g, 1a), put an end to a 13-game scoreless streak that had tied the longest such drought of his career. Mike Murphy (28 saves) recovered from a shaky first period, where he allowed four goals on 13 shots, to record his fourth win of the season in net. 

“I think everyone gets to take a breath of fresh air now,” Sutter told Checkers team writer Paul Branecky. “This game is so much about confidence and when you’re on a bit of a skid it weighs on you mentally. Tonight we found a way.”

After allowing a breakaway goal just 24 seconds into the first period, Aaron Palushaj's 18th goal of the season evened the game at 1-1 just a minute and 10 seconds later. However, the Heat then countered with three consecutive goals to claim a three-goal edge entering the second period. 

According to reports, Daniels let his players do the talking during the first intermission, with Justin Shugg's voice figuring prominently. 

Daniels also shook up his lines dramatically prior to the puck drop on Sunday, dropping Terry and Brody Sutter to the third line with Shugg, while bouncing Victor Rask up to the second line and Philippe Cornet to the top line. 

The move paid off for the third line, which combined to record nine points, with Terry posting a team-high nine shots on Abbotsford goaltender Joni Ortio (37 saves).

Terry began the comeback midway through the second period when he finished his own rebound. On the third line's next trip out onto the ice, Terry found Shugg with a drop pass that led to his 13th goal of the season to bring the Checkers to within one goal of the West Division-leading Heat.

In the opening minutes of the third, the Heat's Max Reinhart was called for interference and Terry made sure his team paid for it with a blast from the left point to tie the game at 4-4.

Later in the third, Terry looked on the verge of capping a spectacular individual performance when the Checkers were awarded a penalty shot after Derek Smith played the puck with his hand while it was in the Abbotsford crease, but his attempt came up empty when the puck leaked off his stick sending the game into overtime.

Checkers captain, Brett Sutter, did the honors 1:53 into the extra period.

Charlotte -- who did not commit a penalty in the win -- will now return to Time Warner Cable Arena for the conclusion of its five-game home (technically) stand on Tuesday when they'll face the Norfolk Admirals.