GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Four goals on the power play and a fifth while shorthanded enabled the Charlotte Checkers to claw out of a three-goal hole and claim a 6-4 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday at Van Andel Arena.
The Checkers’ four power play goals were the most allowed by the Griffins since Nov. 27, 2010, when Grand Rapids earned a 10-8 win at Chicago despite the Wolves’ 5-for-7 performance with the advantage.
The Griffins (1-3-0-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the game was four minutes old and built a 4-1 advantage just over one minute into the second period. Tomas Tatar stickhandled into the slot and went top-shelf on Justin Peters only 33 seconds into the game, and Louis-Marc Aubry battled for position at the top of the crease during a delayed penalty to tip home Gustav Nyquist’s shot from the point exactly three minutes later.
Grand Rapids-born Drayson Bowman answered on the power play for Charlotte at 9:03, beating Tom McCollum, but Nyquist rounded out the period’s scoring with his third point at 10:15, dangling in the slot before unleashing a shot that bounced off and through Peters.
Francis Pare pushed the Griffins’ lead to three at the 1:04 mark of the second period, scoring from the right circle off a Jeff Hoggan feed to end Peters’ night in favor of former NHL netminder Dan Ellis.
A controversial boarding major to Trevor Parkes, who hit Marc-Andre Gragnani from behind along the right boards, gave the Checkers a five-minute power play at 6:50. After Landon Ferraro and Riley Sheahan had unsuccessful shorthanded scoring chances, a slashing call to Chad Billins with 2:08 left in Parkes’ penalty presented the visitors the 5-on-3 opportunity they used to begin crawling back into the game.
Jerome Samson scored during the 5-on-3 at 10:13, before 5-on-4 tallies by Justin Faulk at 10:45 and Zach Boychuk at 11:26 gave Charlotte three power play goals in a 1:13 span and knotted the game at four goals apiece.
The South Division-leading Checkers (4-1-0-1) took a 5-4 lead on a shorthanded goal at 9:28 of the third. Following a turnover, Chris Terry moved in and took a shot from the top of the left circle that changed direction off a sliding defender and found the top right corner of McCollum’s net. Terry added an empty-netter off another turnover with 1:03 remaining for the final margin.
Ellis earned the win by stopping all 15 shots he faced. McCollum denied 25 of 30 in the loss, while Peters (5 of 9) escaped with a no-decision.
Grand Rapids will try to capture its first home win of the season on Saturday when the Rockford IceHogs pay a 7 p.m. visit to Van Andel Arena.
GAME NOTES: The Griffins fell to 0-5 all time against the Checkers, including 0-3 at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids failed in all five power play attempts while the Checkers converted four of their eight tries…The game was televised regionally on Fox Sports Detroit.
THREE STARS: 1. CHA Gragnani (four assists); 2. CHA Faulk (goal, two assists); 3. GR Nyquist (goal, two assists)