Monday, April 14, 2014

Checkers fall to Grand Rapids, now stand two points out of playoffs with two games to play

The Checkers put 36 shots on Tom McCollum on Sunday and the Grand Rapids goaltender turned away all but one on his way to recording a 2-1 win in Charlotte's final regular season game at Time Warner Cable Arena. 

With just two games remaining, the Checkers -- who entered Sunday in ninth placed in the Western Conference -- no longer control their own destiny when it comes to the playoffs. They currently sit two points behind Oklahoma City (who has a game in hand) for for the eighth and final playoff spot.  

Philippe Cornet scored the Checkers’ only goal in support of John Muse, who finished the night with 25 saves.

The Checkers will now do some scoreboard watching, while they wait to conclude their regular season schedule with a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday.

“The whole game we did everything we could but put the puck in the net,” Checkers coach Jeff Daniels told team writer Paul Branecky following the game. “It’s disappointing because I thought the effort was there and the guys gave everything they had.”

Cornet opened the scoring in the first for the Checkers, but the Griffins' 
Cory Emmerton countered after Charlotte was hit with its third minor penalty of the period with 39 seconds to play. 

Trevor Parks scored the game-winner in the second when he found himself in the right place at the right time to gather a blocked shot and send it past Muse.  

Checkers forward, Aaron Palushaj, who suited up for the first time in eight games after suffering an injury three weeks ago, hit the post with a shot in the period.

McCollum, who stopped 14 Checkers shots in the third period, finished the game ranked third in the AHL with a 2.28 goals-against average. 

A Griffins' boarding penalty led to the game's final 10 seconds being played 6-on-4 (with Muse off for an extra attacker). However, the Grand Rapids goaltender held strong.   

“It’s just one of those nights where their goalie was standing on his head and it just wasn’t going in for us,” Checkers forward Zach Boychuk, who was reassigned to the team from Carolina on Saturday, told Branecky. “We battled as hard as we could right to the end and just weren’t able to get that equalizer.”

Between Sunday and the Checkers' next game against Milwaukee on Friday, Charlotte players will likely be keeping an eye on Wednesday's Stars-Barons showdown.  

“You’ve got to look at it like we’re still alive and still in it,” Boychuk told Branecky. “There are still two games left and obviously we’re going to need a lot of help, but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of days. “Hopefully those games this weekend mean something.”

Notes: John Muse (two shutouts) allowed two goals in 179 minutes against the Griffins this season. Emmerton’s goal ended his shutout streak at 139 minutes and 21 seconds. … Sean Dolan left the game after a collision with Ryan Murphy in the first period, but was able to return with a protective cage around his face. … Phil Di Giuseppe, Matthew Pistilli, Sergey Tolchinsky and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy scratches … Nicolas Blanchard, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game due to injury.


Anonymous said...

i want to share on facebook the checkers pix, not the observer staff writer...duh!

Seth Lakso said...

Click the arrow on the picture to the right and it changes your facebook post to the photo on top of the blog...