Friday, February 6, 2015

Checkers streaking (in wrong direction)

After being unable to secure back-to-back wins in regulation through 46 games this season, the Charlotte Checkers can finally say that they’ve strung a few together.

The problem being, Charlotte’s current run is on the wrong side of the win-loss column.

The Checkers’ 4-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves in front of a nearly sold-out crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday extended the team’s current pointless streak to a season-worst three games.  

The Checkers, who have failed to secure a point in three consecutive games on two previous occasions this season, have now been out-scored 13-3 in the nine periods since the American Hockey League All-Star break and 8-1 in their last six periods.

With 30 games remaining in the regular season and 13 points currently standing between Charlotte and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the run of futility couldn’t be coming at a worse time.

Chicago (23-18-5-1) entered the Time Warner Cable Arena just one point behind the Texas Stars for that coveted final playoff spot in the Western Conference and played like the hungrier team from the opening puck drop.

Wolves’ goaltender Jordan Binnington (38 saves) became the third straight goaltender to record a win against the Checkers (16-24-5-1), turning away all but Brody Sutter’s one-timer with just under five minutes to play in the third.

The one-goal night dropped Charlotte’s already AHL-worst goals-per-game average to 2.13.

Chicago entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, before exploding for three more in the second period, the last of which spelled the end of the night for Checkers’ Goaltender Drew MacIntyre (16 saves on 20 shots on goal) with 4:45 still remaining in the period.

John Muse (11 saves) did what he could to give the Checkers a chance to get back in the game. But ultimately, Sutter’s blast during garbage time was the only puck to make its way past Binnington.

The Checkers will get another shot at the Wolves on Saturday in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd.

Beginning with Saturday’s rematch, four (Chicago, Lake Erie, Toronto, Hamilton) of Charlotte’s six opponents in February are teams also competing for the eighth seed in the conference.

It’s now or never for the Checkers.