Fiery Start Helps Checkers Avenge Previous Loss To Penguins
It wasn’t a surprise the Charlotte Checkers came out with authority after losing by four the night prior.
Ultimately, their three-goal spurt in the first period provided the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with too large a deficit to overcome.
The Penguins got within one goal twice, but Nicolas Roy’s empty-net tally with 1:23 left sealed a 5-3 win for the Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Saturday. The Penguins fell to 19-16-4-1 with a split against the league’s top team entering the weekend.
Cam Brown, Ethan Prow and Jeff Taylor were the goal-scorers for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The turning point
Charlotte blitzed goaltender Tristan Jarry and the Penguins with 14 shots in the first period and scored three times in the first 8:18, capped off by Zach Nastasiuk’s power-play tally. However, the Penguins recovered.
Brown and Prow scored 3 minutes apart late in the second period, seemingly giving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton momentum and putting it in position to make a rally. However, an ill-timed pinch by defenseman Matt Abt sent Charlotte rushing the other way. In the ensuing scramble, Roy scored in the slot at 18:27 to reestablish a two-goal advantage.
The Penguins controlled the third period and got one goal back, but maybe the outcome is different if they had escaped the middle frame without additional damage.
■ Nastasiuk was the third star with his goal. It was only his second of the season.
■ Roy put a bow on the game by intercepting a transition pass and easily firing it into the vacant cage. His sixth multipoint game of the season (2G-1A) gave him No. 2 honors.
■ Julien Gauthier also had three points and got the Checkers rolling with his goal on the game’s first shot. He was star No. 1.
Stat to know
Charlotte is now 17-0 after taking a lead into the third period.
A split against the league’s No. 1 team might sound like an OK end result, but the Penguins could have easily won this game with a better start. Like they have so many times this season, a couple of key mistakes or lapses helped doom them with goals at the other end.
That said, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton showed some of the good things it is capable of throughout the weekend. It should get a confidence boost.
■ The lineup was the exact same as Friday’s, including Jarry in net.
■ A scoring change was made to the Penguins’ first goal on Friday, with Linus Olund getting credit for an assist instead of Ryan Scarfo.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton begins a three-game homestand with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Rochester Americans on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
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Penguins 0 2 1 — 3 Charlotte 3 1 1 — 5 First period: Scoring - 1, Cha, Gauthier (Fleury, Roy), 1:14; 2, Cha, Geekie (Schilkey, McKeown), 4:55; 3, Cha, Nastasiuk (Gauthier, Bean), 8:18 (PP). Penalties - WBS, Olund, slashing 5:18; Cha, Geekie, slashing 5:50; WBS, Taylor, tripping 8:11; WBS, Angello, interference 14:57; Cha, Fleury, slashing 17:18.
Second period: Scoring - 4, WBS, Brown (Angello, Czuczman), 12:40; 5, WBS, Prow (Johnson, Dea), 15:52 (PP); 6, Cha, Roy (Kuokkanen, Gauthier), 18:27. Penalties - Cha, Sanguinetti, cross-checking and holding 0:33; WBS, Dea, tripping 7:25; Cha, Fleury, high-sticking 14:34.
Third period: Scoring - 7, WBS, Taylor (Hayes, Johnson), 12:40; 8, Cha, Roy, 18:37 (EN). Penalties - WBS, bench (too many men on ice; served by Taylor) 2:17; WBS, Burton, holding 19:21.
Shots on goal: WBS 4 14 17 - 35; Cha 14 7 6 - 27.
Goaltenders: WBS, Jarry (22 saves on 26 shots); Cha, Nedeljkovic (32 saves on 35 shots).
Power-play opportunities: WBS 1 for 5; Cha 1 for 6.
Referees: Michael Markovic and Brandon Blandina. Linesmen: Paul Carnathan and Ken Radolinski.