After a heartbreaking loss last night and a shuffled roster today, the Checkers regrouped and locked down the Rockford Icehogs for a clutch 2-0 victory on the road.
After entering last night’s contest abruptly following an injury to starter Michael Leighton, Alex Nedeljkovic was back between the pipes in Rockford and turned in a stellar performance. The rookie denied all 30 shots he was faced with to pick up his first shutout as a pro, frustrating a Rockford team riding an eight-game point streak.
The Checkers broke through on the scoreboard midway through the first when Valentin Zykov carved his way through a mass of defenders and sniped one past Rockford netminder Jeff Glass. Leading scorer Andrew Poturalski doubled that advantage in the middle frame on a slick redirect of a Keegan Lowe point shot. Charlotte would keep the pressure on the IceHogs for much of the remainder of regulation, but that would be all the offense they would need to secure the 2-0 win.
The Checkers wrap up their final three-in-three of the season tomorrow night in a rematch with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Charlotte improved to 10-4-1 since Jan. 10 … Nedeljkovic’s shutout was the first of his professional career. It was the Checkers’ fourth of the season and second in their last three games … Three of the Checkers’ four games against Rockford this season featured shutouts (two for the Checkers, one for Rockford … Nedeljkovic has won each of his last four starts … Poturalski extended his point streak to five games (2g, 4a). He has points in 12 of his last 15 games … Poturalski and Zykov scored goals for the second consecutive game … Rockford suffered its first regulation loss since Jan. 28 (5-0-3), with this game ending its five-game win streak … Forwards Patrick Dwyer, Kyle Hagel, Sergey Tolchinsky and Brendan Woods and goaltender Michael Leighton missed the game due to injury … Forward Phil Di Giuseppe (impending NHL recall) and defenseman Kevin Raine were healthy extras.