CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Checkers held the Grand Rapids Griffins scoreless in their hunt for a playoff spot as the Griffins fell 3-0 on Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena in only the fifth time they have been shutout this season.
The Griffins clinched a playoff spot on March 28, and Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs assured them of at least a top-four seed and home ice advantage in the upcoming Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Checkers’ win put them in playoff position, but they are still within two points of three other teams in a bubble position in the middle of the Western Conference.
Grand Rapids will have another chance at the Checkers (37-33-1-2) on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. EDT for the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams.
The opening 20 minutes found the Griffins (45-22-2-4) in a three-goal hole. The first tally was scored at 4:07 after Petr Mrazek made the initial save, but the rebound popped out and over him as Victor Rask put it away.
Brett Sutter doubled the lead at 10:12 when his shot from behind the goal line banked off Mrazek’s back into the net.
At 13:29, David McIntyre sat in the box on a boarding call and Zach Boychuk, the league’s top goal-scorer (36), took advantage of the Checkers’ first power play. Chris Terry sent a pass to Boychuk at Mrazek’s left for the top-shelf marker.
Cory Emmerton had a shorthanded breakaway attempt a few minutes into the second period and Landon Ferraro nearly scored on a backhander in the final minutes, but a 13-save second-period performance by Muse kept the score at 3-0.
The shots were knotted 10-10 in the third period, with the Griffins failing to convert on the only power play chance of the frame. Mrazek stopped 22 of 25 shots in his second-straight loss, while Muse made 30 saves in the shutout.
Three Stars: 1. CHA Muse (W, shutout, 30 saves); 2. CHA Boychuk (goal, assist); 3; CHA Rask (game-winning goal, assist)
With Griffins game report