Checkers Fall to Pens 5-1
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Checkers return to Bojangles' Coliseum was a lackluster affair, with the home squad dropping a 5-1 contest to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The visitors owned the first period and put the Checkers in a substantial 3-0 hole before the first buzzer, chasing starter Scott Darling from the game. The Penguins didn't let up to start the middle frame, with leading goal scorer Teddy Blueger lighting the lamp 39 seconds in to push Charlotte's deficit even further away.
Charlotte's offense finally broke through midway through the second period when Aleksi Saarela connected with Andrew Poturalski on an odd-man rush, but that couldn't spark anything more. The penalty-plauged Checkers finally surrendered a goal on their sixth power play against late in the third and that would be the final nail in the Pens' lopsided victory.
Coach Mike Vellucci on the team's start
We've got to do better, obviously. That was a bad start. We gave up 12 chances and three goals isn't good enough. We just didn't come ready to play, and that happens when you have those long road trips. We talk and talk about it, and you can't do it. We went 0-for-4 on the power play and gave up a shorthanded and they went 1-for-6 on the power play. Specialty teams and not coming out ready to play is the difference.
Vellucci on what didn't work in this game
It was more effort and more being ready to play and moving your feet. I thought we stood around a lot. They out-chanced us 22-12, so 2:1. They deserved it. They played better and more physical than we were and wanted it more.
Vellucci on his decision to pull Scott Darling in the first period was due to the play of Darling or the team in front of him
The team in front of him. He'd like to have at least one of those back but I was just trying to change the momentum up. Like I said, we gave up 12 chances and we don't give up 12 chances in a whole game but we did in the first period. It was a team thing. From goaltending out to coach we just weren't good enough and it was a shame because we had a great crowd and didn't perform.
Vellucci on what could motivate his team to play better tomorrow
Hopefully embarrassment because it was embarrassing what we did tonight in my opinion. From everybody down we didn't compete, we didn't produce and we didn't do enough. If you don't want to get embarrassed you'd better show up, compete and be ready from the get go.
Patrick Brown on the start
It's tough. We talked about it because it happened a couple of times on our road trip in Canada. It's starting to become a trend and we've got to get that out of our game for sure, because if we're always playing from behind it's going to be tough to win games.
Brown on if the team can take anything from this game
Definitely We've got these guys tomorrow. We played hard towards the end of the game but it wasn't enough. We're going to try to start hard tomorrow and get an early lead. I like this team when we play with a lead.
Brown on the team's ability to bounce back from games like this in the past
We've just got a really good group of guys. We've got guys leading from the back and the front. The rookies do a great job of scoring goals and making big plays and we've got veteran guys that are just stable and calm back there. We've got a good mix and I'm hoping to have a better game tomorrow.
The Checkers' three-game win streak and five-game point streak came to their ends ... Of the Checkers' nine regulation losses this season, three have been by four or more goals at home ... The Checkers had won six straight games against the Penguins dating back to last season, including a three-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs ... Poturalski extended his point streak to six games (4g, 5a) and his goal streak to three. He has recorded at least one point in 13 of his last 16 games ... Saarela extended his point streak to five games (2g, 4a). He has recorded at least one point in 16 of his last 19 outings ... Bobby Sanguinetti, who recently rejoined the Checkers on an AHL contract, played his first game with the team in exactly six years (Jan. 11, 2013) ... Defensemen Josiah Didier and Dennis Robertson missed the game due to injury ... Forwards Steven Lorentz and Zack Stortini were healthy extras.
The Checkers and Penguins square off again tomorrow night 6 p.m. for the annual Ovarian Cancer Awareness Night.
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