Tough Third Trips up Checkers
CHARLOTTE, NC - A rough third period proved to be the Checkers' downfall in their rematch with Cleveland on Wednesday, as they dropped a 5-1 contest to split the weekday series.
After a scoreless first the Monsters struck twice early on in the middle frame, but Nick Schilkey threaded a wrister in shortly after to put Charlotte within one goal with 20 minutes left to play.
Things fell apart for the Checkers quickly in the final period, however, as Cleveland snagged two goals just 29 seconds apart to extend their lead even further and put Charlotte's comeback hopes in jeopardy. The home team wasn't able to muster a rally from that point and one more strike before the midway point of the frame proved to be the backbreaker, sending the Monsters home with a lopsided 5-1 win.
Charlotte continued to produce chances but were unable to solve Cleveland netminder Jean-Francois Berube, who finished the night with a staggering 40 saves. Scott Darling hit 30 saves for the third time this season but came away with the loss.
Coach Mike Vellucci on allowing Cleveland to score twice near the start of the third period
We just gave up two quick goals and that pretty much sealed our fate. I don't think we played very good and I thought we got what we deserved. We've got to learn to come out and play every game. I could feel it in the locker room before and I tried to talk to the guys about it, and it seemed like they wanted to do it their way. When you do it your way, this is what happens.
Vellucci on how to get his message across to the team
I think it's pretty obvious. I think the captains need to step up and hold the room accountable. You can't just show up and play games and you can't just show up and win at home. It's very disappointing.
Vellucci on taking positives into the upcoming five-game road trip
We got a lot of chances again but we didn't bear down and score them. It's the same thing on the power play. The power play you could say is struggling but we've been getting a ton of chances. You've got to bear down and you've got to pay a price, and right now we're not doing that in any part of our game.
The Checkers' four-game point streak came to an end. They are 2-3-3 in their last eight games ... Alex Nedeljkovic has each of the Checkers' last six wins since Jan. 6 (6-0-1). Other Checkers goalies are a combined 0-4-3 during that time ... This was the fifth time the Checkers lost by four or more goals this season. All five games were at home ... The Checkers have allowed five goals in three of their last seven games. In the other four, they allowed two or fewer ... This was Cleveland's first regulation win against the Checkers since Dec. 22, 2016, ending a seven-game run in which the Checkers took at least one point ... Forward Zack Stortini and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti sat as healthy extras
The Checkers now hit the road for five straight games starting Saturday in Hershey.
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