CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Sutter scored over the shoulder of Brad Thiessen at 5:40 of overtime as the Charlotte Checkers beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2-1, in Game 3 of the East Division Finals.
With the win, Charlotte takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with the next two games scheduled to be played at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday and Friday.
Nick Dodge also scored his fourth of the postseason for the Checkers, while Mike Murphy improved to 5-2 by making 25 saves on 26 shots.
Thiessen took the loss for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who fell in overtime for the first time all season, including the regular season.
Collins opened the scoring for the Penguins, 13:23 into the first period, on a 2-on-1 with Tim Wallace.
Wallace recovered a loose puck in the Penguins zone and led a rush down the right-wing boards then fed a cross-ice feed to Collins, who beat a diving Murphy.
The Checkers pulled even, 1-1, when a routine dump-in led to Dodge’s fourth goal of the playoffs. Fielding Nicolas Blanchard’s chip-in, Thiessen attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, but fired directly into a forechecking Dodge, who then fired the puck just under the crossbar and in.
Receiving energy from their game-tying goal, the Checkers outshot the Penguins 11-5 in the second period, but were unable to break the deadlock.
The teams traded quality scoring chances through the end of the third period, but neither could find the back of the net, forcing overtime for the first time in the series.
Just 5:40 into overtime, Sutter grabbed the puck down low, circled and fired a shot between Thiessen’s shoulder and the crossbar to secure the 2-1 win for Charlotte.
The Checkers and Penguins will meet again for Games 4 and 5 on Wednesday and Friday night in Charlotte.