Checkers' Winning Streak Ends in Rockford
CHARLOTTE, NC - As much as new additions gained via trades helped the Checkers build a four-game win streak, it was a player they dealt away that brought it to an end.
Drew MacIntyre stopped all 30 shots he faced on Tuesday to defeat the Checkers 1-0 and win a hard-fought goaltending duel against his old partner, Daniel Altshuller. Mark McNeill scored the game's only goal midway through the third period as the Checkers began their grueling seven-game road trip with their first loss since March 5.
The result marked the sixth time that the Checkers, who had scored three or more goals in each of their last four games, have failed to find the back of the net this season. Meanwhile, MacIntyre, who did not record a shutout in 79 games as a Checker beginning with the first game of last season continuing until the Carolina Hurricanes traded him on Feb. 29, earned the distinction in just his third game with his new team.
Charlotte continues its run of road games by playing three games in three nights this weekend - a stretch that starts with back-to-back games in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday and a rematch with Rockford on Sunday. The Sunday game will mark the fourth time that the Checkers and Rockford will have played each other over an eight-day span.
Up until McNeill, who scored two goals against the Checkers at Bojangles' Coliseum this past Saturday, finally dented the score sheet in the third period, special teams told the story of this contest.
Charlotte, which entered the game ranked second in the AHL with a 21 percent success rate on the power play, finished this game 0-for-7 on the man advantage. Going against the grain of increased offensive success in other situations, the Checkers are now 2-for-35 on the power play over their last seven games.
Meanwhile, Charlotte's penalty kill stepped up huge on several occasions, including a full two-minute, five-on-three power play in the second period and an abbreviated two-man advantage lasting about 30 seconds in the first. However, their third penalty of the game for having too many men on the ice proved too much to overcome, with McNeill depositing the rebound of a Ville Pokka point shot for the only goal that the home team would need.
Rockford finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play. In sharp contrast to its uncharacteristic struggles on the man advantage, Charlotte has now killed 30 of 32 opposing power plays over its last seven contests.
Much in the same way MacIntyre kept Charlotte off the board, particularly with Charlotte pressing in the final minutes of regulation, Altshuller, a rookie who had backed up the last five games to make way for reigning AHL Player of the Week John Muse, turned in a stellar 34-save performance that should rank amongst his best of the season. Aside from keeping the IceHogs at bay during the dangerous two-man advantages, he also kept his team in the game on several other occasions, most notably on a partial breakaway in the second period and on a 2-on-0 break in the third in which he denied Bryan Bickell shortly after McNeill's goal.
The Checkers are now 3-2-0 in the eight-game season series with the IceHogs that will see the teams play twice more in Charlotte in April following Sunday's matchup in Rockford.
The Checkers have now posted three separate four-game win streaks this season. They have not won more than four in a row since a six-game streak in January of 2013 ... Despite the loss, Charlotte remains in playoff position as they own a better winning percentage than the fourth-place team in the Pacific Division (San Jose) , which was idle tonight ... The game featured three fights, with Anthony Camara, Kyle Hagel and Mike Cornell getting involved for Charlotte ... Jake Chelios led the Checkers with five shots on goal ... Forwards Dane Fox, Brock McGinn and Valentin Zykov and defenseman Danny Biega missed the game due to injury ... Forward Erik Karlsson was a healthy extra.
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