Murphy’s 44-save SO puts Checkers on brink

2011 Calder Cup Playoffs

Mike Murphy turned in one of the most impressive goaltending performances of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday and put Charlotte on the brink of another upset in the process.

The 22-year-old Murphy stopped all 44 shots sent his way to preserve a 1-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Time Warner Cable Arena and give the Checkers a commanding 3-1 series lead in the East Division Finals.

Charlotte, which ousted two-time defending Calder Cup champion Hershey in the first round, is now just one victory away from eliminating a Penguins squad which racked up an AHL-high 58 wins and 117 points during the 2010-11 regular season.

Game 5 of the series is on Friday in Charlotte, with the Penguins needing a win to send it back to Wilkes-Barre for Game 6 on Saturday.

The teams, which averaged a combined 7.63 goals per game during their regular season series but entered the contest averaging 3.67 goals per game in this postseason clash, played another tight, defensive game.

It remained a scoreless deadlock until early in the third period, when Checkers forward Chris Terry buried a power play goal at the 2:01 mark. Terry’s second goal of the playoffs – and first since Game 1 against Hershey – was assisted by defenseman Bryan Rodney and forward Jon Matsumoto.

That proved to be enough for Murphy, who made 14 saves in the first period, 19 in the second, and 11 more in the third frame. He improved to 6-2 in eight appearances since first taking the crease in Game 3 of the division semifinals.

The Penguins, who have totaled only one goal in the two games in Charlotte thus far, suffered their second shutout of these playoffs, following a 2-0 setback to Norfolk in Game 2 of the opening round.

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Charlotte 0
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – CHARLOTTE 2, W-B/Scranton 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – CHARLOTTE 1, W-B/Scranton 0
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