Checkers End Skid in Grand Fashion, Beat Griffins 4-2
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - It's been a while, but the Checkers finally found themselves back in the win column, snapping their winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Tyler Bertuzzi opened the scoring early in the first but Ethan Werek quickly evened things up with a low-angle shot that somehow beat Griffins netminder Jared Coreau a minute later. The two squads exchanged chances for the rest of the frame until Andy Miele potted another one for the home team, sending the Griffins into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
The second frame saw Charlotte come alive, outshooting Grand Rapids 16-6 and turning in one of their best periods in recent memory. A power-play laser from Brock McGinn tied things up midway through the second, then T.J. Hensick cashed in on a wrap-around to give the Checkers a one-goal lead, an advantage that would hold up into the final intermission.
Things tightened up for both teams in the third, as the Griffins pressed to reclaim the lead and the Checkers buckled down to keep their advantage safe. Time continued to slip away from the Griffins until Patrick Brown put the final nail in the coffin, accepting a feed from Brendan Woods and finding the empty net to put an end to the slump and secure the Checkers' win.
Tonight finally saw the Checkers spark some offensive momentum, with Hensick's tally marking just the third time since the skid began that they have scored more than two goals. The offense was buzzing most of the night, peppering Coreau, who entered the night with the fourth-best goals-against average in the AHL, with 40 shots on goal. That marked Charlotte's highest total since Jan. 13. On top of their four goals, the Checkers also had two close calls that were eventually waved off after lengthy reviews.
McGinn continued to be the driving force behind the Charlotte offense, snagging a share of the team lead with his 14th goal of the season. That strike came on the man advantage, where the Checkers have been lights out following a short dip in production, as they have recorded a power-play goal in six of their last seven contests. Meanwhile, Werek lit the lamp for the first time in over a month and notched his second multi-point game of the season and Hensick scored his second game-winner on the year, pulling him within one of the team lead.
Drew MacIntyre put up a strong performance between the pipes for Charlotte, earning his first win in his last four starts. After struggling to get back on track after returning from an injury, the veteran stood tall against a formidable Griffins attack, making 13 stops in the third to squash Grand Rapids' furious comeback bid.
Tonight marked the first leg of the Checkers' first three-in-three of the season, with a rematch against the Griffins coming tomorrow night.
The win snapped a franchise record 10-game winless streak ... It was Charlotte's first win since Jan. 23 and their first road win since Jan. 9 ... The Checkers are now 17-10-4 in the first games of three-in-threes ... Ryan Murphy missed the game due to personal reasons and Erik Karlsson was a healthy scratch
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