Cardiac Checkers one win away after Game 4 rally

Photo: Ross Dettman

ROSEMONT, Ill. ( … Another comeback by the Charlotte Checkers has them one win away from their first Calder Cup championship.

Nicolas Roy scored twice in the third period and Charlotte scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 victory over Chicago at Allstate Arena on Thursday night.

The Checkers will take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5, which is set for Saturday evening in suburban Chicago (8 p.m. ET, AHLTV, NHL Network).

Charlotte spotted the Wolves a 3-1 lead before scoring four times in the final 21 minutes of the game to earn its third consecutive victory.

After falling behind early in each of the first three games of the series, Chicago grabbed a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into Game 4. Big defenseman Nic Hague carried the puck end-to-end, drove to the net and slipped it behind Checkers goaltender Dustin Tokarski for his fourth goal of the postseason.

The Wolves played with a lead for the first time in the series, but it lasted less than five minutes before Jesper Sellgren‘s shot from the left point got through and eluded Oscar Dansk at 5:21.

Chicago went back in front at 16:29 when Zac Leslie intercepted a clearing attempt and threw a shot on net that beat a screened Tokarski for his second goal of the series, making it 2-1.

The Wolves upped their lead to 3-1 at 13:47 of the second period when Brooks Macek netted his fourth goal of the postseason, banging home the rebound of Dylan Coghlan‘s shot from the left circle.

The Checkers’ comeback started with 1:00 to play in the middle frame, as Martin Necas showed patience in the slot and drew Dansk out of position before burying his third goal of the series and fifth of the playoffs. The power-play goal cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2 heading into intermission.

Charlotte wasted just 32 seconds before tying the game early in the third period, as Roy took a back-door pass from Julien Gauthier and netted his fifth goal of the playoffs to make it 3-3.

Aleksi Saarela got the game-winner with 7:08 to play, sniping a shot high to the short side past Dansk for his .

Roy’s empty-net goal with 2:32 remaining sealed the win.

Tokarski (5-0) made 22 saves for his 12th win in as many appearances as a member of the Checkers this season. For the second time in the series, Tokarski drew the start in net in the second half of games on back-to-back nights.

Dansk (10-8) turned aside 18 of 22 shots in the loss.

NOTES: Hague’s goal was the fastest to open a Calder Cup Finals since 2017, when Syracuse’s Kevin Lynch scored 17 seconds into Game 5 against Grand Rapids… Charlotte trailed after 40 minutes for just the second time this postseason; they have come back to win both times… The Checkers are also 4-3 when allowing the game’s first goal… The Checkers were 1-for-3 on the power play in Game 4, while the Wolves went 0-for-4… Chicago was without regular-season AHL MVP Daniel Carr, who was injured in Game 3 on Wednesday.

2019 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-7)
A1-Charlotte Checkers vs. C1-Chicago Wolves | Series Infographic
Game 1 – Sat., June 1 – Chicago 4, CHARLOTTE 3 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sun., June 2 – CHARLOTTE 5, Chicago 3 | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Wed., June 5 – Charlotte 4, CHICAGO 1 | Recap/Highlights
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – Charlotte 5, CHICAGO 3
Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Charlotte at Chicago, 8:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*Game 6 – Thu., June 13 – Chicago at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*Game 7 – Fri., June 14 – Chicago at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV, NHL Network
*if necessary… All times Eastern