CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Milan Gajic and Guillaume Desbiens each scored two goals, lifting the Gwinnett Gladiators to a 5-4 road win in Charlotte on Thursday night.
Desbiens had the game-winner 5:59 into the third period after the Checkers rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second. Set up on the power play, Desbiens took Derek Nesbitt's clearing attempt from behind the net and beat replacement goalie Jeff Glass.
The Gladiators held off Charlotte through the final horn to pick up their fifth consecutive victory. Sean Fields made 23 saves to earn his 20th win of the season for Gwinnett (28-9-5), which expanded its division lead to seven points over idle Florida.
Gajic scored 29 seconds into the game to get the Gladiators started, walking down the right wing wall and ripping a slapshot over the shoulder of starting Charlotte goalie Chris Holt.
Desbiens doubled that lead at 9:25 before the Checkers got on the board 49 seconds later.
Scott Mifsud tipped a centering feed from Cam Brown past Holt to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Soon after that, Holt was pulled from between the pipes and replaced by Glass, who shut out the Gladiators in the season opener. But Glass didn't fare much better against the league's best offense.
Sprung by Jeff Campbell on a breakaway with the 5-on-3 man advantage, Gajic gave Gwinnett a 4-2 lead at 9:32 of the second period.
Charlotte got even on tallies from former Gladiator Ryan Fultz and the second of the night by Dusty Jamieson.
But Desbiens, a rookie on contract with the Atlanta Thrashers, lit the lamp for the 21st time this season to keep Gwinnett's run going.
Note: Defenseman Danny Eberly was called up to Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Thursday, the same day Gwinnett activated another blueliner, veteran Rick Emmett, from the 30-day injured reserve list. Emmett, recovered from wrist surgery, played his first game of the season in Charlotte.