Press release provided by the Charlotte Checkers
TORONTO, ON - The Checkers kept their winning ways rolling into Toronto, walloping the Marlies 5-1 to take Game 3 and build a 2-1 series lead.
Building off of the four-goal avalanche in the third period of Game 2, the Checkers silenced the home crowd with a pair of tallies in the opening frame, with Trevor Carrick cranking a shot home from the blue line followed by Tomas Jurco redirecting Patrick Brown laser from the slot.
Charlotte wouldn’t let off the gas from there, rattling off three more unanswered tallies to secure a sturdy 5-0 advantage. The Captain Brown led the way, adding a third-period one-timer goal to his pair of helpers in the first to set a single-game career high.
The Marlies would finally break through with just over two minutes left in regulation to spoil the shutout bid, but that doesn’t sully a stellar performance for Alex Nedeljkovic between the pipes. The netminder stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced, his highest save total of the postseason.
While the offense paved the way to victory, Charlotte’s penalty kill was a driving force as well. The Marlies’ highly regarded power play got seven opportunities on the night, including a big two-man advantage in the second, but the Checkers shut down all of them until the Marlies’ lone goal in the waning minutes.
Mike Vellucci on the game
I thought we came out a little slow there in the first couple of shifts and then we scored two quick ones and settled led in a little bit. Once we got that third one we felt pretty good about ourselves.
Vellucci on getting greasy goals
You have to in the playoffs. Their goalie was really hot early on in the series, so the best way to combat that is to get to the net front and get some deflections. The first goal in the comeback the other game was a deflection by Jurco and then he was net front again on that first one. We’re doing a lot of good things that way.
Vellucci on the team’s mentality after taking a 2-1 series lead
We scored a few goals and feel a little better about ourselves, but we had a lot of chances in that first game. In that first game they scored on a five-on-three and in five-on-five we out-chanced them but just didn’t get the goals and their goalie played well. In the second game we got to the net more.
Vellucci on Alex Nedeljkovic’s response after getting pulled in Game 2
Ned has always responded. I never had a doubt. That wasn’t a bad game (in Game 2), it was a momentum changer, but even though he got pulled he responded in a positive way.
Patrick Brown on the team’s mentality coming into this game
We just wanted to make sure stayed focused and didn’t let that win (in Game 2) get to us. We wanted to establish ourselves as a forechecking team in the first period and I think we were able to do that.
Brown on the penalty kill
(Assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky) had us dialed in. Your goalie is your most important penalty killer, and Ned played amazing and we were able to block a whole bunch of shots. I think that five-on-three we had in the second period was huge with Nicky Roy snapping back a couple of big draws and we were able to get clears. That was big.
Alex Nedeljkovic on the team’s performance
The only extra motivation is that we’re in the playoffs. This is the conference finals, and this organization has never gotten past this point or even got a win at this point before we got these two here. They stole a game from us at home so we knew we had to come out strong and set the tone right away. We’ve got these two road games left and I think we did a good job of setting the tone for them.
Nedeljkovic on the start of the game
They jumped out us real quick but you kind of expect that with them being home and the series being tied. We weathered the storm and then we went and played our game. Those last 13 minutes or so that we had in Game 2, we just picked up where we left off in that game and really rolled with it tonight.
Nedeljkovic on bouncing back after getting pulled in Game 2
I didn’t think I played bad, I just wasn’t getting the bounces in Game 2. He felt like he needed to make a switch and obviously it worked out. It’s the playoffs and it doesn’t really matter know. Stats, you throw them out the window. The only thing that matters is the win.
Nedeljkovic on the penalty kill
We didn’t let them get in the zone. The only time they had zone time was maybe when they won a faceoff. Every other time we were getting pucks out, we were forcing them and we weren’t letting them getting set up. They have a good power play and unfortunately we gave them a couple chances tonight, but for the most part we shut them out pretty good.
The Checkers improved to 9-2 in the playoffs. The Marlies were undefeated before dropping the last two … Including their Game 2 comeback, the Checkers scored 10 unanswered goals in the series prior to the Marlies’ late goal tonight … Poturalski recorded his 15th point of the playoffs, tying him with San Diego’s Adam Cracknell for the league lead and setting a new team record for most points in a single postseason … This was the first three-point game of Patrick Brown’s five-season AHL career. He now had four points (2g, 2a) in three AHL playoff games this season … Tomas Jurco’s two-point performance gives him five points (2g, 3a) in his last two games. He has 12 points in 11 playoff games and 29 points in 30 games since joining the Checkers in late February … Carrick extended his point streak to seven games (1g, 6a), which is one shy of Morgan Geekie’s franchise record set earlier this postseason … Geekie ranks tied for third in playoff scoring with 13 points (6g, 7a) … Nedeljkovic’s 2.13 goals-against average trails only Marlies netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo, who exited this game after two periods … Forwards Scott Davidson, Steven Lorentz, Stelio Mattheos, Jacob Pritchard and Zack Stortini, and defensemen Dennis Robertson, Bobby Sanguinetti and Eric Williams were healthy extras.
After a day off tomorrow, the Checkers and Marlies are back in action for Game 4 in Toronto on Thursday.