After a wild 7-4 loss last night, the Checkers look to even the AHL's Eastern Conference final at 1 with a win tonight over Binghamton. We're live in Charlotte with all the action, so if you aren't near a TV (the game is on Time Warner Cable channel 520 in the Triangle and Charlotte) or a satellite radio (it's also on Home Ice on SiriusXM), we've got you covered here.
Pregame: After the national anthem, there was a loud ovation in memory of the late Donnie MacMillian, with players on both teams and the officials joining in the cheers with a stick salute. Really neat moment that shows the tight connections that have formed between the Checkers and Hurricanes in their first season in Charlotte.
1:40 1st: Brett Sutter heads to the box for interference despite being interfered with himself. One of the nice things about having a seat this close to the action is that you hear everything, quite literally - Sutter was darned lucky that he didn't get an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for mouthing off to referee Ryan Fraser using some words that can't be reprinted in this space.
9:24 1st: A much different feel to tonight's game than last night's. I mean, it's easy to say that given that we're scoreless and there were about 15 goals scored by this point last night, but both teams are much more defensively aware; shots are 4-3 Senators through the first half of the game.
16:00 1st: The ice has been pretty choppy tonight, likely because of the back-to-back combined with a pretty warm day outside, and as a result neither team is able to do much in terms of setting up plays in the offensive zone. The Senators have had the better scoring chances, but nothing real concerning and certainly nothing like last night's shootout.
19:12 1st: Senators lead 1-0; Potulny 12 (Keller, Z. Smith) And just like that, an odd-man rush leads to the first lead of the night. Bobby Sanguinetti got caught in no-man's land, flailing his stick at Ryan Keller to no avail. Keller took advantage of Sanguinetti's indecision to feed a perfect pass to Ryan Potulny, who buried the one-timer with ease on a shot Murphy had no chance to stop.
End 1st: Well, we know what the Checkers need to do: more consistency offensively, but they'll have to wait for 1:44 to go to work offensively, as they have that much time to kill on a Riley Nash slashing penalty with :16 remaining.
:29 2nd: Sens take a 2-0 lead; Potulny 13 (Keller, Hoffman) (pp) The Nash penalty was costly, as just 29 seconds into the period Ryan Potulny notched his second of the night, a tip on a bad-angle shot by Ryan Keller from the far corner that was tipped through Murphy's five-hole.
5:00 2nd: The Checkers finally had one sequence where they were able to establish some pressure with the Terry-Sutter-Boychuk line, but it didn't amount to anything despite a couple of good looks through traffic. Aside from that, though, the Sens have completely shut down the neutral zone and have forced the Checkers to dump the puck in, and the Checkers haven't had much luck at tracking it down after the dump-in.
7:45 2nd: The Sens' Jared Cowen catches the Checkers in a line change and Murphy gets some help from the post after Bryan Rodney and Brett Bellemore can't force Cowen wide. A few seconds later, Andre Benoit high-sticks Brad Herauf and gives the Checkers their first power play of the night.
10:05 2nd: So much for the power play. Zach Boychuk took a high-sticking penalty a few seconds after Murphy somehow stopped a 2-on-0 breakaway with an incredible stick save. A few seconds earlier, a Bryan Rodney shot somehow avoided the net even though everyone in the building thought it was going to sneak behind Robin Lehner and into the net. It hit the post instead, to the frustration of everyone in the building.
14:08 2nd: I can't count the number of shots the Checkers have taken tonight that have either missed the net or been deflected. Lehner has stopped everything that he's seen, but there have been a few more opportunities left on the table that went wide for one reason or another.
15:53 2nd: What looked to be a Charlotte goal was wiped out because Brett Sutter cross-checked his way to the front of the net. It was an obvious call, much to the consternation of the home crowd, but it doesn't make it any less of a bitter pill.
End 2nd: History repeats itself, as the Checkers will begin the third period killing a penalty, this one a Brett Sutter boarding penalty that will have :41 remaining on it. Shots in the second period were 16-11 Charlotte, who had a 25-22 lead overall, but like last night they're leading on the shot board and losing where it counts.
4:45 3rd: Jeff Daniels has started mixing up the lines, putting a line of Dalpe, Boychuk and Bowman together, and it nearly paid off. Off a faceoff, a linesman set an unwitting screen that gave Bowman a free path to the net, where he set a drop pass for Dalpe...who whiffed on the shot. Been that kind of night.
11:25 3rd: Included in that line juggling is mixing up the defensive pairings, and the Chinese-fire-drill pairing of Bobby Sanguinetti and Justin Faulk is back on the ice again together. Obviously Daniels is hoping for instant offense, but it's a little scary when the play comes back toward Murphy.
13:01 3rd: Sens lead 3-0; Butler 9 (Locke) Well, it wasn't the line juggling that cost the Checkers their third goal against. A bad bounce off the leg of Zac Dalpe redirected a Corey Locke centering pass right to Bobby Butler, who had all day to wind up and blast home a 20-foot slapper from the top of the slot to give the Sens a three-goal lead.
19:28 3rd: The Checkers are playing with emotion and pushing back for the first time all night. However, if you look at the time stamp, you'll see that it's way too late.