CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Checkers clawed back from an early three-goal deficit, but couldn’t complete the comeback and fell, 3-2, to the Hershey Bears on Tuesday evening.
With the loss the Checkers now trail Hershey, 2-1, in the best-of-seven East Division Semifinals. Game 4 is tomorrow in Charlotte.
Kyle Greentree recorded the game-winning goal for the Bears, who also had tallies from Francois Bouchard and Keith Aucoin. Braden Holtby stopped 28 of 30 Charlotte shots.
Mike Murphy made his first appearance of the playoffs for the Checkers and made 20 saves. Murphy has been out since Mar. 20, when he suffered an injury against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Nick Dodge and Zach Boychuk scored the goals for the Checkers, who outshot the Bears 30-23.
Hershey got on the board first with a strange goal at 8:44 of the first period. As two players battled behind the Checkers’ net, the puck landed on top of the net where Bouchard swiped at the puck, flipping it off of Murphy’s back and in.
Aucoin gave Hershey a 2-0 lead with a goal with just more than five minutes remaining in the first period. Steve Pinizzotto weaved through the Checkers’ defense and fed a pass across to the driving Aucoin who chipped the puck by Murphy.
The Bears extended their lead to 3-0 late in the first with a power-play goal by Greentree. The Hershey winger blasted a one-timer from the right-wing faceoff circle that squeaked through the pads of Murphy.
Charlotte cut the Bears’ lead to 3-1 on a tally by Dodge. The veteran center moved in on a 2-on-1 with Nicolas Blanchard and elected to take the shot, snapping a wrister over the glove of Holtby.
The Checkers inched closer with an early third-period goal by Boychuk. A bad change for Hershey allowed Chris Terry to slip a pass to Boychuk, who then ripped a one-timer between Holtby’s glove and the crossbar to make it 3-2.
Charlotte was awarded a late power play with 1:22 remaining in regulation and pulled Murphy in favor of an extra attacker. After hitting their third post of the game on a prime scoring chance, the Checkers couldn’t find the back of the net and were defeated 3-2.
The Checkers (1-2) host Hershey in games 4 and 5 on Wednesday and Friday. The puck drops at 7 p.m. for both games from Time Warner Cable Arena. For ticket information, visit www.GoCheckers.com or call 704-342-4423.