Following a near goal in overtime for the Americans, Valentin Zykov corralled the puck in his own defensive end and proceeded to blow by the Rochester defenders, swinging across the front of the crease and beating a sprawled out Linus Ullmark for his second tally of the game.
Zykov’s winner helped the Checkers avoid blowing a substantial lead to Rochester. Charlotte jumped out of the gates with an Andrew Miller breakaway inside of the first minute of play – one of three points on the night for the veteran forward. Rochester would respond shortly after but the Checkers poured it on from there, notching three unanswered strikes to reassert themselves in the lead.
Seth Griffith would strike on the man advantage for Rochester late in the second and give his squad some life for the third period, as the Americans came back with a pair of tallies in the final five minutes of regulation to force an overtime period before Zykov finished them off.
Coach Mike Vellucci on Zykov’s overtime winner
I thought it was a great move and he used a lot of speed there, but he played well all game. He was really moving and had an exceptional game. We don’t get to that point if Ned doesn’t make that save on the two-on-one there which was a huge save for us. We played a little loose tonight, and that’s a great team over there with a lot of experience. They put a lot of pressure on us in the third.
Vellucci on Rochester coming back in the third period
They were very aggressive. They’ve got a lot of older guys. I don’t want to say we panicked, but under pressure we didn’t pay a price to get pucks out. We were taking the easy way out and you’ve got to make sure you play hard, especially in those situations.
Vellucci on Miller’s three-point effort
He’s been consistent. He was a leader for us tonight, but he was consistent and was really skating for us tonight. He’s always been a really smart player, but he upped his competitiveness tonight.
Trevor Carrick on his goal tonight
When the offense isn’t going, you’ve got to start throwing pucks at the net. That was kind of our game plan coming into today. They’re not going to be the prettiest goals sometimes, so you’ve just got to get it to the net and hope to get a couple of lucky bounces like I did today.
Carrick on his team getting the game’s first goal
We talked about getting a good start and having a lot of energy. We finally got the first goal of the game, which is always nice because you can play with more confidence rather than chasing from behind.
Carrick on losing the lead but still coming out on top
They’re a good team, and when you’re up two goals you sometimes get a little comfortable and take your foot off the gas pedal. I think that kind of happened tonight. When you do that with a skilled team like that, you’ve got to be careful. We’re just thankful that Zykov came up with a nice goal at the end to win it for us. I didn’t even know he could skate that fast.
Zykov’s 21st goal of the season tied him for first in the AHL. This was his fourth multi-goal game of the season … Zykov and Warren Foegele, who scored his 20th tonight to pull into a tie for third in the league, are both on pace to break the single-season franchise record of 36 goals set by Zach Boychuk in 2013-14 … Of Carrick’s three goals this season, two have come in his last three games … Andrew Poturalski extended his point streak to six games (2g, 5a coming in) … Alex Nedeljkovic has been in net for each of the Checkers’ last five victories since Dec. 21. His 17 victories on the season are tied for second-most in the AHL … The Checkers have won three of their last four … This was only the second overtime game the Checkers have played this season. The first was a shootout loss on Nov. 26 … Forwards Nicolas Roy and Sergey Tolchinsky missed the game due to injury … Forwards Mike Ferrantino, Mitchell Heard and Zack Stortini were healthy extras.
The Checkers return to the road now, kicking off a six-game trip with a meeting Friday in Hartford.