CHARLOTTE - Three consecutive goals- one in each period- propelled the Lake Erie Monsters (12-9-1-1) to a 3-2 win in Charlotte over the Checkers (12-8-0-2) at Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday night. Mike Connolly scored for the third straight game, while Mike Sgarbossa and Bill Thomas also scored for Lake Erie. The Monsters and Checkers will meet again Friday night in Charlotte at 7:00 PM.
The Checkers opened the scoring when Jerome Samson took a pass in front and tapped the puck top-shelf past Monsters goalie Sami Aittokallio at the game's 5:18 mark. Just over seven minutes later- at the 12:40 mark- Connolly scored a power play goal from in front of the net off a great centering feed from Geoff Walker, tying the game. The goal was Connolly's third of the season. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie.
With 1:29 left in the second period, Sgarbossa collected a bouncing puck in front of the Charlotte net after Bryan Lerg's initial shot was blocked, and Sgarbossa slipped the puck past the outstretched left pad of Checkers goalie Justin Peters to give the Monsters a 2-1 lead. Sgarbossa's ninth goal of the season vaults him into a tie with Lerg for the team lead.
After a neutral zone turnover, David van der Gulik streaked up the left side and floated a perfect pass to Thomas in front of the Charlotte net, and Thomas redirected the puck past Peters to give the Monsters a 3-1 lead at 10:20 of the final period. The goal was the sixth for Thomas, and was also assisted by Tyson Barrie, who now has 13 assists; a total that ties Mark Olver for the team lead.
Charlotte's Drayson Bowman netted a wrist shot from the right circle on the power play with 5:29 left in the third, but the Monsters held on for the one-goal win.
Aittokallio is 7-5-0 after stopping 28 of 30 Checkers shots. Peters is 7-4-0 after stopping 21 of 24 Monsters shots. Charlotte has dropped five straight games in regulation; all at home.
NOTES: The Monsters are now 4-1-0-0 all-time against the Checkers, and are now 9-5-0-0 on the road this season... The Monsters are 6-2-0-0 when Bill Thomas gets a point, and 4-2-0-0 when he scores a goal; Thomas has goals in back-to-back games... van der Gulik has points in back-to-back games... Mark Olver's four-game point streak came to a close in Thursday's win in Charlotte... Sgarbossa has a goal and two assists over his current three-game point streak... Aittokallio has now won back-to-back starts for the third time this season... The Monsters were 1-6 on the power play, and 3-4 on the penalty kill on Thursday.