Story by Matt Tidcombe/Belleville Senators
Martin Necas scored the overtime winner as the Charlotte Checkers slipped past the Belleville Senators 3-2 Wednesday night in North Carolina.
Belleville had goals in regulation from Paul Carey and Filip Chlapik while Filip Gustavsson made 33 saves. Charlotte’s Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 20 shots while Necas and Aleksi Saarela scored.
In a back-and-forth overtime, where Andrew Poturalski hit the crossbar and Chlapik drew a last-ditch pad save out of Nedeljkovic, it was Necas who won the game at 4:27 as he beat Gustavsson with a backhander on a breakway, moments after Chlapik had a breakaway himself but looked for a drop pass instead of shooting.
Tied at a goal apiece heading into the final frame, it took Belleville only 1:28 to grab the 2-1 lead. Stuart Percy kept the puck in the offensive zone on an attempted Charlotte clear out before tossing it goal-bound where Chlapik re-directed it in for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Gustavsson stood tall on a Charlotte power play near the mid-point of the period where he made five saves to preserve the Senators lead but the Checkers finally found an equalizer as their pressure paid off with 2:23 to play as Saarela wired a one-timer for his fifth of the year with the extra skater out for the goalie.
Belleville nearly won the game in regulation in the dying seconds as Erik Burgdoerfer’s slap shot was saved by the right pad of Nedeljkovic with the rebound falling at Jack Rodewald’s feet but he couldn’t quite find the puck to score the winner.
The Sens opened the scoring 7:21 into the night on Carey’s second of the year as, on the power play, he skated down low and beat Nedeljkovic up-high as he showed off some soft hands to flip the puck top-shelf.
Charlotte found an equalizer during four-on-four play at 15:46 as Necas got a bit of luck as his attempted pass hit a skate and fell right back on his stick as he beat Gustavsson with a wrister for his third of the year.
Neither team could find the scoreboard in the second period but Chlapik and Jordan Murray both drew iron while Andreas Englund laid out Cliff Pu with a big open-ice hit before taking down Julien Gauthier in a fight moments afterwards.
Carey played in his 300th career game and with his goal, now has points in five straight games.
Belleville is back in action on Saturday against the Utica Comets and you can hear the game on CJBQ radio starting at 6:50.