ALBANY, N.Y. - Matt Pistilli scored to snap a 3-3 tie with 2:49 left in the third period and the Charlotte Checkers went on to defeat the Albany Devils, 5-3, at Times Union Center on Saturday night. For the Checkers, the win improves their record to 42-26-2-7 and punches their ticket into the Calder Cup playoffs, in the team’s first season in the American Hockey League.
The goaltender that backstopped Charlotte’s playoff-clinching effort was Justin Pogge, who won for the fourth time in his last seven starts by making 33 saves on 36 shots.
The Checkers’ offense was led by Zac Dalpe and Cedric McNicoll, who each netted two-point games. The losing goaltender was Mike McKenna, who allowed four goals on 36 shots. The Devils’ goals were scored by Steven Zalewski, Chad Wiseman and David McIntyre.
The Checkers wasted little time getting the jump on their division rival, as Nicolas Blanchard scored a power-play goal 3:13 into the first period to open the night’s scoring. The Checkers controlled the puck in the Albany zone throughout their time with the man advantage and a shot that McKenna stopped rebounded into the slot, from where Blanchard fired a backhander into the lower corner of the net.