CHECKERS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT

Charlotte Checkers VERSUS   Albany Devils
Pistilli scores late goal to secure win, secure playoff berth

ALBANY, N.Y. – Matt Pistilli scored to snap a 3-3 tie with 2:49 left in the third period and the Charlotte Checkers went on to defeat the Albany Devils, 5-3, at Times Union Center on Saturday night.

 

For the Checkers, the win improves their record to 42-26-2-7 and punches their ticket into the Calder Cup playoffs, in the team’s first season in the American Hockey League.

The goaltender that backstopped Charlotte’s playoff-clinching effort was Justin Pogge, who won for the fourth time in his last seven starts by making 33 saves on 36 shots. The Checkers’ offense was led by Zac Dalpe and Cedric McNicoll, who each netted two-point games.

The losing goaltender was Mike McKenna, who allowed four goals on 36 shots. The Devils’ goals were scored by Steven Zalewski, Chad Wiseman and David McIntyre.

The Checkers wasted little time getting the jump on their division rival, as Nicolas Blanchard scored a power-play goal 3:13 into the first period to open the night’s scoring. The Checkers controlled the puck in the Albany zone throughout their time with the man advantage and a shot that McKenna stopped rebounded into the slot, from where Blanchard fired a backhander into the lower corner of the net.

Shortly after the Checkers took the lead, however, they took two minor penalties 19 seconds apart to give the Devils a five-on-three power play. During the two-man advantage, Zalewski set up in the right faceoff dot, and just when it looked like he was going to attempt a cross-ice-pass; he snapped a short-side shot past Pogge to tie the game, 1-1.

With the teams tied 1-1, Albany tough guy Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond laid a late hit on Michal Jordan, which Zack FitzGerald came to the defense of. Although FitzGerald and Letourneau-Leblond were both given five-minute fighting majors, the Devil was also given a pair of roughing penalties on the sequence. On the resulting power play, McNicoll made the Devils pay by blistering a shot past a diving McKenna from the right-wing faceoff dot.

Charlotte maintained its lead into the second period, but took two penalties just before the game’s midway point that changed the game’s momentum. First, Wiseman scored the Devils’ second five-on-three goal of the game off a back-door feed from Alexander Vasyunov to tie the game, 2-2, at the 8:39 mark. Then, McIntyre scored during the five-on-four portion of the power play to give Albany a 3-2 lead.

But, in a game of constant momentum changes, Micflikier changed the ebb and flow that was starting to lean in Albany’s favor, by scoring his 20th goal of the season with 6:38 left in the second period.

The game stayed tied as the teams played on even footing for most of the third period, but Pistilli broke the stalemate and scored the eventual game-winning goal by rifling a wrist shot past McKenna with 2:49 left in regulation.

Micflikier would go on to add an empty-net goal in the last minute and the Checkers won 5-3.

Charlotte looks to improve its playoff positioning when it returns to begin the final homestand of the season against Norfolk on Monday at 7 p.m.

Notes:

The Checkers finish the road portion of the regular season with a record of 22-14-1-3, and the season series against Albany with a record of 3-2-1-0…In six games since being called up from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, Cedric McNicoll has three goals and four assists in six games, and three multi-point games…Zac Dalpe had his sixth multi-assist game of the season and now has three goals and four assists on a four-game point streak…Jon Matsumoto became the sixth Checker to reach the 20-goal mark this season.

Charlotte Checkers 5 at Albany Devils 3 – Status: Final
Saturday, April 2, 2011 – Times Union Center

Charlotte 2 1 2 – 5
Albany 1 2 0 – 3

1st Period-1, Charlotte, Blanchard 8 (McNicoll, Dalpe), 3:13 (PP). 2, Albany, Zalewski 15 (Henrique, Wiseman), 5:15 (PP). 3, Charlotte, McNicoll 5 (Rodney, Dalpe), 16:05 (PP). Penalties-Wiseman Alb (high-sticking), 2:40; Micflikier Cha (roughing), 3:04; Magnan Alb (roughing), 3:04; FitzGerald Cha (holding), 4:43; Blanchard Cha (cross-checking), 5:02; FitzGerald Cha (fighting), 13:15; Letourneau-Leblond Alb (roughing, roughing, fighting), 13:15.

2nd Period-4, Albany, Wiseman 15 (Vasyunov, Ginand), 8:39 (PP). 5, Albany, McIntyre 12 (Wiseman, Gionta), 10:16 (PP). 6, Charlotte, Matsumoto 20 (Terry, Borer), 13:22. Penalties-Perkovich Alb (cross-checking), 6:23; Micflikier Cha (high-sticking), 6:47; Bellemore Cha (holding), 8:17; Bellemore Cha (roughing), 13:51; Mills Alb (roughing), 13:51; Murray Alb (slashing), 13:51; Sutter Cha (fighting), 17:03; Mills Alb (fighting), 17:03; Wiseman Alb (hooking), 17:44.

3rd Period-7, Charlotte, Pistilli 7   17:11. 8, Charlotte, Micflikier 28 (Boychuk, Dodge), 19:28 (PP EN). Penalties-Nash Cha (hooking), 3:16; Ginand Alb (tripping), 4:14; Rodney Cha (interference), 5:59; Mills Alb (major – elbowing, game misconduct – elbowing), 8:02; Terry Cha (high-sticking), 14:41; Bellemore Cha (roughing), 16:00; Jordan Cha (roughing), 16:00; Henrique Alb (roughing, roughing), 16:00; Vasyunov Alb (slashing), 17:41.

Shots on Goal-Charlotte 13-11-13-37. Albany 10-17-9-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Charlotte 3 / 8; Albany 3 / 7.
Goalies-Charlotte, Pogge 21-17-4 (36 shots-33 saves). Albany, McKenna 14-19-1 (36 shots-32 saves).
A-5,823
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (41), Jarrod Ragusin (42).
Linesmen-Robert St. Lawrence (10), Frank Murphy (29).

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