Already down a game in the series and trailing by three goals in Game 2, Charlotte roared back and scored four times in the third period on Saturday to stun Toronto, 5-3, squaring the Eastern Conference Finals at one win apiece.
The series heads north to Toronto for the next three games, beginning Tuesday night.
The Marlies, who hadn’t lost since their regular-season finale on Apr. 14, raced out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Jeremy Bracco, Colin Greening and Adam Brooks and chased Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (nine saves) at the 4:52 mark of the second period.
Charlotte broke through with 4:26 remaining in the middle stanza when Tomas Jurco deflected Nicolas Roy‘s shot past Kasimir Kaskisuo to make it 3-1.
The Checkers cut it to 3-2 when Jurco pounced on a Marlies turnover and fed Roy, who banged home his first goal of the playoffs with 12:39 to go in the third, then tied things up 69 seconds later when Jesper Sellgren‘s shot from the point hit traffic in front and eluded Kaskisuo (8-1) for his first career AHL goal.
The game-winner came with just 1:41 to play, as Andrew Poturalski wristed a shot from the right-wing circle that hit a Toronto defender in front and caromed in for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Patrick Brown capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 42.4 seconds left.
Dustin Tokarski (2-0) was perfect in relief for the Checkers, stopping all nine shots he faced to earn the win.
Charlotte finished with a 25-21 advantage in shots on goal, including 11-3 in the third period.
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
A1-Charlotte Checkers vs. N3-Toronto Marlies
Game 1 – Fri., May 17 – Toronto 2, CHARLOTTE 1 | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – CHARLOTTE 5, Toronto 3
Game 3 – Tue., May 21 – Charlotte at Toronto, 7:00, AHLTV
Game 4 – Thu., May 23 – Charlotte at Toronto, 7:00, AHLTV, TSN2
Game 5 – Fri., May 24 – Charlotte at Toronto, 7:00, AHLTV, TSN2
*Game 6 – Sun., May 26 – Toronto at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV
*Game 7 – Tue., May 28 – Toronto at Charlotte, 7:00, AHLTV
*if necessary… All times Eastern