Checkers Struggles Continue Against Toronto
The Checkers returned to their home ice Friday but couldn’t shake their losing skid, falling to the Toronto Marlies 4-1.

After Toronto standout Kasperi Kapanen broke the scoring open in the first period, Miro Altonen jumped on a giveaway behind Charlotte’s net and put it home to double the visitor’s advantage. The Checkers, who outshot the Marlies 16-6 in the middle frame, finally lit the lamp in the waning moments of the period when Andrew Poturalski ripped a laser off the faceoff to pull Charlotte within a goal with 20 minutes to play.

The Marlies put a damper on Charlotte’s momentum early in the third period, cashing in on their second power-play goal of the game, to regain a two-goal lead, then rode out their hot goaltender the rest of the way. Garret Sparks turned aside 26 of the 27 shots he was faced with throughout the night to shut down Charlotte’s hopes of a comeback, while Andreas Johnsson deposited a puck into the empty net late to set up Toronto’s 4-1 victory.

QUOTES

Coach Mike Vellucci on what made the difference in tonight’s game
Special teams. They went 2-for-4 and we went 0-for-3 on the power play. We did have chances on the power play, but you can’t give up two goals out of four. That was the difference in the game.

Vellucci on the lack of scoring in recent games
We’re not getting that second or third chance – it’s mostly one and done. They do a great job of boxing out and tying us up in the neutral zone so you’ve got to fight through checks. You have to play a man’s game and play hard, and they worked harder.

Vellucci on losing Lucas Wallmark to NHL recall during the day
He had pregame skate with us and he’s gone, and then we lost Saarela in the first period so we’re down two centers. There’s a lot of line juggling going on there, but we’ll regroup and figure out what we’re going to do tomorrow.

Brown on the difference between the team’s earlier success and current struggles
We haven’t changed much. We’re not getting the bounces right now and we need a little bit more commitment from every single line, every single shift. From our special teams to our five-on-five play, we just aren’t giving enough right now. We need to give more and we need to buy in.

Brown on the team’s leadership group
A lot of it falls on us. We have to make sure we’re ready to play and we have to make sure the whole team is ready to play. We’re not going to get down. We know we have the skill in that locker room to win every night.

NOTES

The Checkers have just two total goals in their last three games, all losses … Charlotte has dropped five of its last six since returning from the holiday break … Toronto has won five straight … The Checkers gave up at least one power-play goal in each of their last six games, with opponents converting at a 26.9 percent rate during that time (7-for-26). During that same time, the Checkers are 1-for-25 on the power play (4 percent) … Charlotte is 2-9-0 against the Marlies over the last five seasons, including a 1-2-0 mark this season … Aleksi Saarela left the game due to injury after the first period and did not return … Forward Sergey Tolchinsky missed the game due to injury … Forward Zack Stortini and defenseman Dennis Robertson were healthy extras.
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.

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