Chris Terry already had a reputation for coming through in the clutch, but Sunday’s goal may have been his biggest yet.
The Checkers’ scoring leader registered his third overtime goal of the season to give his team a much-needed 3-2 win over the visiting Texas Stars at Time Warner Cable Arena. The goal snapped his team’s three-game losing streak and brought it back to within three points of Texas for the top spot in the South Division.
David Marshall and Matt Beca also scored goals, while John Muse made 28 saves to earn the win in his seventh consecutive start. The result marked the first time Charlotte had beaten Texas in five tries this season.
Terry’s goal allowed him to regain the top spot in the AHL with eight game winning goals, with his latest a fitting end to what had been a hard-fought effort against one of the league’s best teams.
“It’s huge,” said coach Jeff Daniels, whose team had fallen 7-3 to the Stars two nights earlier. “After a tough loss when we got embarrassed in our own building, we wanted to come out and make a statement that we could play with these guys.
“We had 20 guys who gave it their all tonight.”
Terry’s 23rd goal of the season withstood a video review, as his shot from a sharp angle was quickly covered by goalie Jack Campbell just as it trickled over the line. It marked the sixth win in the Checkers’ last six games that were tied after regulation, including five during the four-on-four period preceding the shootout.
“That’s the kind of player he is,” said Brett Sutter, who recorded his second consecutive two-assist game. “He’s a big-time player in the last minutes of games and in overtime, and at the end of games I like having the puck on his stick.”
For Terry, the goal, along with his second-period assist on Beca’s tally, was also big on a personal level.
“It was a big bounce back for me,” said Terry, who returned from his first-ever NHL stint on Friday morning. “I was pretty unhappy with how I played the other night, and I wasn’t giving the kind of effort I need to.
Terry now has 48 points on the season, at least 12 more than any of his teammates. That’s what helped him get to the NHL, where he scored in his Carolina debut last week.
“I need to keep playing like I was down here to get back up there,” he said.
The rest of the game was a much-improved effort from the Checkers, who continued to play without 10 injured players. After getting nothing to show for two solid efforts that began their losing streak and appearing to suffer from a loss of confidence in the third, it came at the right time as the team looks to stay well above the cutoff line in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I think we needed that for team morale,” said Sutter.
After Marshall scored his second goal in six games since signing a professional tryout contract – a wraparound after intercepting a pass between Texas defensemen behind the net on a Charlotte power play – Texas scored twice two minutes apart midway through the second period.
Though one of the goals quite literally came on a bad break (defenseman Rasmus Rissanen’s stick snapped in half, leaving the puck right in the path of Matt Fraser, who entered the game tied for the most goals among active AHL players), it was a troublesome flashback to the kind of lapses that haunted the team on Friday. In that contest, the Stars scored two goals less than a minute apart on three separate occasions.
This time, there were no lingering effects, with Beca tying the game with his third of the season late in the second period, sending the teams to overtime after a scoreless third.
“In the last game it happened because we let it happen,” said Daniels. “Today if we had a bad shift we said that we couldn’t make it two bad shifts.”
“I think we did a good job of sticking with it,” said Sutter. “We battled back.”
Muse was steady when needed during the game, though one of his best saves may not have been made exactly as he intended. On a shorthanded Texas chance, he got a piece of a puck that bounced up into the air, rolled down his back and got stuck his pants, causing it to slide wide rather than into the net.
With their five-game home stand now concluded, the Checkers now hit the road for two games, including one against Texas on Saturday, before returning to Time Warner Cable Arena on March 26. They will then play their final home games of the regular season in a six-game stand.
The Checkers’ sixth win during the four-on-four overtime period is the most of any AHL team … Three of the five meetings between Charlotte and Texas went to overtime … The teams play each other three more times between March 23 and April 12 … Marshall’s power play goal was his third in 132 career AHL games with seven different teams. He had a game-high six shots on goal … Texas has gone to a league-high 18 overtime games … Sutter, who already has career highs in goals, assists and points, has 15 points (3g, 12a) in his last 13 games.