Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/28/11 at 11:31 PM ET
On Thursday night, the Charlotte Checkers won the first game of the East Division final 3-2 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins. Jon Matsumoto scored two power play goals and Zac Dalpe netted his fourth of the playoffs. Zach Boychuk assisted on Dalpe’s goal to extend his points streak to seven games. He has at least one point in every game of the postseason. Brett Sutter, who has also had a hot hand, got the second assist on Dalpe’s goal.
Mike Murphy made his fifth straight start and got his fourth straight win, making 28 saves in the process.
Game two of this series will be Saturday in Scranton, and the Baby Pens will want to work on their discipline between now and then. Although the Checkers committed more penalties, the Pens took them at bad times. There were two extended five-on-three power plays for the Checkers, and they cashed in on one of them. On the other, the first penalty elapsed but there was still power play time and Charlotte took advantage of it. The Checkers had a potent power play all season long, and teams don’t want to give them five-on-three time.
Geoff Walker and Brett Sterling scored power play goals for the Penguins in the second and third periods respectively.
After Matsumoto scored his second goal to give the Checkers a 3-1 lead, he committed a penalty just a few seconds later. Sterling made the Checkers pay halfway through the power play and it was a one goal game. Down the stretch, Murphy had to make a couple of tough saves, and he ended up with 30 shots faced.
On the other end of the ice, Baby Pens goalie Brad Thiessen had a night to forget. He gave up three goals on 19 shots.
WBS owned the regular season series between these two teams, going 7-1-0-0, including wins in all four games at the Time Waner Cable Arena. As we all know, though, what happened in the regular season doesn’t matter in the playoffs.
Game two of this series will be Saturday night at 7:05pm in the Mohegan Sun Arena. Games three, four and (if necessary) five will be in Charlotte on Monday Wednesday and (if necessary) Friday of next week. Game time for all home games will be 7:00pm.
Zac Dalpe is continuing to play like a top level player, and he’s making an early case for a permanent spot on the big team next season. With Cory Stillman very likely to be out of the picture and the strong chance that Chad LaRose will find an opportunity somewhere else, there will be roster spots. Although it’s a long way til October, it’s probably safe to write Dalpe’s name on the 2011-12 Hurricanes roster. In ink. He’s under contract through the 2012-13 season and should be around for a long time.
Brett Sutter is having a great post-season and might be one of the last cuts on the big team in the fall. He’s slated to become a RFA on July 1, but there’s little doubt that they’ll work a new deal for him.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.