Matsumoto leads Checkers to Game 1 win
CHARLOTTE 3, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Jon Matsumoto netted a pair of power play goals – including the game-winner early in the third period –and Charlotte skated into Wilkes-Barre and grabbed a 3-2 win over the top-seeded Penguins in Game 1 of the East Division Finals on Thursday.
Game 2 is set for Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena before the series shifts to Charlotte for three games.
Matsumoto, who registered his fourth straight 20-goal regular season but failed to score in the Checkers’ opening-round ouster of Hershey, buried his first of the playoffs midway through the second period and then struck again on the power play at 5:03 of the third.
That goal made it a 3-1 Charlotte advantage and stood up as the game-winner when Wilkes-Barre’s Brett Sterling notched his first of the postseason – also on the power play – only 1:26 later.
AHL All-Rookie forward Zac Dalpe rounded out the Checkers’ offense with his team-leading fourth postseason goal, and netminder Mike Murphy turned aside 28 of 30 shots between the pipes.
Murphy improved to 4-1 in the playoffs and has won four in a row since Charlotte fell into a 2-1 series hole against Hershey in the division semifinals.
Geoff Walker also notched his first playoff goal for the Penguins, who dropped Game 1 on home ice for the second time in as many rounds. Wilkes-Barre wound up losing the first two in the division semifinals before rattling off four straight wins to eliminate Norfolk.
East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
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