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Charlotte defeats Chicago in Game 3 of AHL's Calder Cup Finals

Nedeljkovic made 38 saves for Hurricanes affiliate, which takes series lead

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Alex Nedeljkovic made 38 saves for the Charlotte Checkers in a 4-1 win against the Chicago Wolves in Game 3 of the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Finals on Wednesday.

Charlotte, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, leads the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is here Thursday (8 p.m. ET).

"[Nedeljkovic has] worked extremely hard to be in the top shape of his career," Charlotte coach Mike Vellucci said. "He's been consistent, and we talked about that at the beginning of the year. Just be consistent game in, game out."

Jake Bean, Patrick Brown, and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Jurco had two assists for the Checkers.

Brooks Macek scored, and Oscar Dansk made 22 saves for Chicago, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. 

Julien Gauthier, who missed the first two games of the series because of an undisclosed injury, redirected Bean's initial shot 1:51 into the first period to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead. 

Chicago outshot Charlotte 15-6 in the first period, but Nedeljkovic stopped Gage Quinney on a partial breakaway at 4:11 and Macek on a 2-on-1 with 37 seconds left in the period.

"I thought we gave ourselves an opportunity to win with how we played," Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said. "We just ran into a really good goaltender."

Bean scored his first goal of the playoffs to make it 2-0 on the power play 2:16 into the second period when his shot from the point beat a screened Dansk.

Brown stripped the puck from Chicago defenseman Zac Leslie in the neutral zone before scoring shorthanded to extend the lead to 3-0 at 11:46. It was Charlotte's sixth shorthanded goal in its past six games. 

Macek cut it to 3-1 at 14:49 of the third period on a rebound in the crease, but Necas scored an empty-net goal with 3:05 remaining to make it 4-1.

Charlotte is 48-0-0-0 in the regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs when leading after two periods.

Photo courtesy of Ross Dettman/AHL

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