Two goals by Chris Terry and a Checkers power-play until clicking on all cylinders helped Charlotte move past San Antonio, 4-3, on Friday night in front of 8,213 at Time Warner Cable Arena.
One of the Checkers best second periods of the season began with Aaron Palushaj crumbling to the ice.
After a scoreless – and relatively flat – first 25 minutes against the Rampage on Friday night, the Checkers, as well as the 8,213 on hand at Time Warner Cable Arena, came to life after seeing San Antonio defenseman Greg Zanon send Palushaj face-first into the boards.
Zanon headed to the penalty box for boarding, only to be joined seven seconds later by his teammate John Lee, who was found guilty of the same infraction, while Palushaj picked himself up and remained in the game.
The penalties set up one minute and 53 seconds of five-on-three play for the Checkers.
With time winding down on the power play, the Checkers had generated several scoring chances, but had not found the back of the net.
“There was something like 38 seconds left and I just said to the guys, ‘Relax, we still have time here,’” said Checkers assistant captain Chris Terry. “I just tried to calm them down and, you know, say all it takes is one shot and we’re up 1-0.”
With seven seconds of five-on-three play remaining, Terry made good on those words, sending a shot from the point through the legs of a screening Brett Sutter (1 assist) and past San Antonio goaltender Michael Houser (41 saves).
The goal was the first of three Checkers power-play strikes on the night, and set the tone for what ultimately turned into a 4-3 victory for Charlotte.
The Checkers went on to score two more goals in the second, with Palushaj and Brody Sutter doing the honors, before allowing a San Antonio goal with 20 seconds to play in the frame.
Although the late goal put a damper on an otherwise inspired period, the Checkers still managed to outshoot the Rampage, 21-9.
In the third, goals by John McFarland and Matt Gilroy tied the game at 3-3 with 8:41 to play.
Gilroy’s goal came after Checkers defenseman Michal Jordan had fallen at the blue line due to contact with another Rampage player.
However, again the Checkers’ power play had an answer.
When San Antonio defenseman Ryan Whitney was sent off for cross-checking at the 14:30 mark in the third, Charlotte’s power-play unit took to the ice and with 4:01 remaining in the game, another blast from the point by Terry, with Sutter once again screening, found the back of the net.
“None of us wanted to see them tie the game,” said Terry, “but the power play was good for us tonight -- three goals. It stepped up. Sometimes it’s not how many you score, it’s when you score and tonight (the power play) did what it needed to do.”
The two-goal night for Terry extended his current scoring streak to five games and his point streak to six. Over his last 25 games, Terry now has 31 points (12g, 19a).
“Things are working well,” said Terry. “I’m just trying to put pucks on net. I got good screens by Sutter on both goals. You go through streaks like this where you can’t miss almost.”
The Checkers (32-29-3), who finished the night three-for-six on the man advantage, will face the Rampage (25-29-9) again on Sunday.
Asked about how he feels about his game going into Sunday, Terry responded: “Things are going in right now and I’m going to keep shooting.”