CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mike Murphy stopped all 44 shots he faced en route to his first career playoff shutout as the Charlotte Checkers blanked the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 1-0, on Wednesday evening.
With the victory, the Checkers now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, with an opportunity to clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals at home on Friday.
Chris Terry scored the game’s only goal, early in the third period, to end a scoreless 42 minutes of play.
Though somewhat overshadowed by his counterpart, Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen was near-perfect, making 31 saves to keep his team in the game.
The teams traded scoring chances late in the first period and early in the second period. Brett Sutter and Jacob Micflikier each had opportunities to break the scoreless tie, but couldn’t get the puck past Thiessen.
Murphy continued to keep Wilkes-Barre/Scranton off the board with a couple of big saves in the second, stonewalling a flurry of Penguins chances from the low slot.
Spearheaded by big saves by Murphy and a sliding block by Nicolas Blanchard, the Checkers continued their stout play on the penalty kill, killing off a 5-on-3 midway through the second period.
The Checkers finally broke the scoreless tie at 2:01 of the third period with a power-play goal by Terry.
The Checkers' leading goal-scorer during the regular season received a pass from Bryan Rodney, stepped up to the left-wing faceoff dot and snapped a shot through traffic that beat Thiessen low, glove-side.
With 14 minutes remaining in the third period, the Penguins had their best chance of the game. Murphy made a pair of sprawling saves when a Wilkes-Barre forward chipped a puck that trickled along the goal line, but never went in.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton then pulled Thiessen in favor of an extra attacker with 1:31 remaining in regulation. Murphy, with help from a shutdown cast of players in front of him, kept the high-powered Penguins off the board and secured the 1-0 victory.
The Checkers (3-1) have an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win over the Penguins on Friday in Game 5. The puck drops at 7 p.m. from Time Warner Cable Arena.
The first 2,000 fans at Friday’s game will receive a Checkers cowbell, courtesy of Imperial Printing. For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 704.342.4423.