The Checkers picked up their third straight win on Saturday, and they did so in historic fashion.
Riley Nash (2g, 2a) and Brett Sutter (4a) tied a franchise record for most points in a single game as the Checkers skated away with a dominant 8-2 victory in Milwaukee. Charlotte set a team record by scoring five power-play goals on eight chances, becoming the first AHL team to score five in a single game this season.
In addition to Nash, Chris Terry and Jeremy Welsh also scored two goals, making the game the only time that three different Checkers have recorded multiple goals in the same game. Charlotte also flirted with a team record for largest margin of victory as they led 7-0 early in the third period but ended up coming one goal short thanks to two consolation tallies by the home team that ruined John Muse’s shutout bid.
Zac Dalpe and Justin Shugg scored the other goals for Charlotte, which improved to 17-6-4 on the road this season. Dalpe, who also recorded an assist, left the game after being hit with a shot and did not return.
Muse, starting for the first time since Jan. 26, made 30 saves to improve to 3-0-0 this season and 14-3-2 over parts of three AHL campaigns.
Given the way the Checkers ran away with the second game of their six-game road swing that continues in Grand Rapids tomorrow afternoon, it’s difficult to believe that they led just 1-0 after the first period. However, that was the case, with Nash scoring his 10th of the season to tie his career high for points (32) set during his rookie season in 2010-11.
It wasn’t until the second period that Charlotte began to pull away, as they scored four times in the first 12 minutes, including three more power-play goals, to take a 5-0 lead. Nash, who had never topped the three points he had scored on three previous occasions during his career, factored in on all four goals to set a new career high.
Nash, a third-year center, now has 20 points (7g, 13a) in his last 17 games dating back to Jan. 4.
As a Checkers five-on-three became a conventional five-on-four early in the third period, Terry scored the goal that set the record, an unassisted tally against former Plymouth Whalers teammate Jeremy Smith. Prior to that goal, no AHL team had scored five power-play goals in a single game since the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins did so on Jan. 12, 2012.
The Checkers, who entered the game with the AHL’s best road power play at 25.8 percent, improved to 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) in their last four road games, including multiple power-play goals in each game.
Forty seconds after Terry’s second goal, Welsh, a 24-year-old rookie, recorded his second career multi-goal game with the Checkers’ seventh of the evening as the Admirals’ defense was unable to clear a loose puck in front of Smith. Smith, the Admirals’ workhorse who was back in net after sitting out the previous three games, was in net for the entire game.
Though it was always going to be too late for a comeback attempt, Milwaukee did score twice in a three-minute span midway through the third period to prevent Muse from recording his third career shutout. Shugg would get one of those goals back with five minutes to go as he fired the puck into an empty net from a sharp angle with Smith sprawled out in his crease.
Sutter, a veteran of 384 AHL games, assisted on that goal to set a new career high with his fourth point.
It looked as though the Checkers would tie their franchise record for largest winning margin and tack on yet another power play goal near the end of the game, but officials ruled that Brett Bellemore’s goal did not count as the Checkers had played the puck with a high stick earlier in the sequence.
The win was the Checkers’ third in a row, marking the first time they’ve accomplished that feat since putting together a six-game win streak from Jan. 4-16. In picking up their most recent victory, they halted the Admiral’s own three-game streak in front of a large crowd on the team’s annual Pink in the Rink event.
The Checkers now move on to conclude their three-game trip in Grand Rapids, where they scored four power-play goals in a 6-4 win in late October.
NOTES: The Checkers have won by six or more goals three times this season, which is more than any other AHL team. All three wins were on the road … The performances from Nash and Sutter marked the ninth and 10th times that a Checker has recorded four points in a single game … Marc-Andre Gragnani, who entered the game tied for sixth in the AHL with 14 power-play assists, added another on Terry’s first goal … The Checkers found themselves shorthanded only once … Nash took a game-high five shots on goal … Welsh was a game-high plus-3 … Charlotte took a 3-2-0 lead in the season series with Milwaukee … Forward Justin Soryal was a healthy scratch for Charlotte, while forwards A.J. Jenks, David Rutherford and Jerome Samson missed the game due to injury.