John Muse may not play very often, but he tends to make the most of his ice time.
In just his second AHL start of the season, Muse made 26 saves to record the Checkers’ first shutout in a 5-0 win in Abbotsford on Friday. He has allowed just one goal in three appearances with Charlotte this season, good for a 0.37 goals-against average and .989 save percentage.
Muse got plenty of help in this particular contest, with Riley Nash scoring what would turn out to be the winning goal just 3:42 into the game before Charlotte pulled away with two more goals in the latter stage of the second period. Chris Terry was the Checkers’ top scorer with a career-high 4 assists, while Nicolas Blanchard, Justin Krueger, Bobby Sanguinetti and Drayson Bowman all found the back of the net.
The win was the Checkers’ most lopsided of the season and third in a row, building on a two-game sweep of Grand Rapids earlier in the week. The Checkers, who entered Friday’s game with the AHL’s No. 17 offense in terms of goals per game (2.83), have now scored 15 goals in their past three contests, easily their most prolific stretch of the season.
After Nash got his team going with a power-play goal against the AHL’s top penalty kill (87.9 percent) by deflecting a point shot by Sanguinetti, Blanchard and Krueger would give the Checkers a commanding lead with goals less than seven minutes apart in the second. Blanchard’s goal, a wrist shot from the slot that beat goalie Danny Taylor glove side, came on a nice setup by Terry, while Krueger intercepted a failed clearing attempt and fired a slap shot for his first career AHL goal with 58 seconds remaining.
Krueger was the last Checkers regular to record his first AHL goal this season. The team began the week with three players still looking for their first tally, but Rasmus Rissanen, Sanguinetti and Krueger have taken turns breaking that barrier in each of the team’s last three games.
Sanguinetti, who scored his first in the team’s previous game, made it a goal streak when he scored on a wrist shot that went in over Taylor’s left shoulder on a third-period power play. Bowman would become the fifth Checkers player to hit the double-digit mark in goals when he converted a rebound on the team’s final man-advantage, also giving him goals in consecutive games.
The Checkers will stay in Abbotsford for a rematch on Saturday night before finishing up the final leg of their three-game road swing with a Tuesday night contest in Norfolk.
NOTES: The shutout was the Checkers’ first since Feb. 26, 2011 … Muse’s start ended a six-game streak by Mike Murphy … Terry’s 4 points tied a team record for most in a single game. He extended his point streak to four games (4g, 5a) … The Checkers' three power play goals tied their season high ... Sanguinetti (four games; 2g, 5a) and Blanchard (four games; 1g, 3a) also extended their point streaks … Forwards Evgenii Dadonov and A.J. Jenks and defenseman Ryan Donald made their Checkers debuts … Jared Staal was a healthy scratch for Charlotte … The win brought the Checkers to the .500 mark against the West Division this season (8-8-1).