Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zach Boychuk scores his AHL-leading 33rd goal in Checkers loss

The Checkers are heading to Oklahoma City on Saturday just two points ahead of the Barons for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference thanks to a 5-2 loss in San Antonio to the Rampage on Friday night. 

Zach Boychuk and Nicolas Blanchard each found the back of the net in the game and John Muse turned away 29 shots, but a strong professional debut by the newly signed Tyler Barnes (two goals) proved to be too much. 

Both Boychuk (1g) and Chris Terry (1a) played their second game in as many days after being reassigned to Charlotte earlier in the day by the Carolina Hurricanes.

It's unclear if Checkers coach Jeff Daniels will chose to rest either of them in the next two days (both of which are game days for Charlotte), but based on a Boychuk tweet from Friday, it seems as though he and Terry are game.

With the loss, the Checkers -- who were outshot by a whopping 34-to-19 margin -- saw their third winning streak of four games this season come to an end. They're yet to put together five consecutive wins.

The Rampage (28-33-9) jumped out to a 4-0 lead midway through the second period.

Goals by Blanchard at the end of the second and Boychuk midway through the third offered a glimmer of hope before Barnes' second of the game put things out of reach with under 10 minutes to play.

Following the loss, the Checkers boarded a bus for Oklahoma City where they'll play out the second and third games of their three-in-three set on Saturday and Sunday.

Notes: Aaron Palushaj (upper-body injury), Greg Nemisz (out for season) and Brendan Woods (out for season) missed the game due to injuries. ... While OKC was off on Friday night, both Rochester and Utica won their games to further tighten the playoff race (see below). ... Charlotte finished its eight-game season series against San Antonio with a record of 5-3-0. ... Boychuk’s goal was his AHL-leading 33rd of the season. The goal extended Boychuk’s current point streak to five games (5g, 6a). ... Charlotte's 19 shots on goal marked its third-lowest total of the season. Through two periods of play they had only nine shots (five in the first and four in the second). ... Terry’s assist made him the first player to score 250 points as a Checker. ... Forward Phil Di Giuseppe and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.