CHARLOTTE, N.C. One of the problems the Gwinnett Gladiators have been having this season wasn't one Wednesday.
They played with a lead and held it for the entire game, beating Charlotte 5-2.
Former Checker Jason Lawrence, acquired in a trade last week, opened the scoring at 10:53 of the first period. Chad Denny made it 2-0 less than a minute later and Gwinnett never let Charlotte get even, much less ahead.
Danny Taylor made 36 saves in net and the Gladiators (10-5-3) got within one point of the Checkers (11-5-2) in the South Division standings.
Charlotte's Kenny Roche attempted to carry the puck out of the zone when Lawrence stepped to him and knocked him to the ice. Dan Sullivan picked up the loose puck and tried a quick wrap-around shot. Ryan Munce turned the shot aside, but Lawrence followed up the play and wristed the puck over the sprawling goaltender.
Denny scored 50 seconds later after a turnover in Charlotte's end. Denny picked off an outlet past and wristed a laser right past an unsuspecting Munce. Munce never saw the shot through the traffic and Denny picked up his second goal in as many games.
The Checkers got as close as 2-1 2:02 into the second period on a rebound by Daniel Tkaczuk.
But Adam Berti restored the two-goal margin 38 seconds into the third period. Sam Roberts held the puck in at the left point, found a shooting lane and blasted the puck on net. Berti gathered in the rebound and stuffed it home.
Gwinnett stayed on track and took a 4-1 lead on the power play at 4:35.
After a nice pad save by Taylor, the Gladiators rushed the puck back up the right wing side. Tom Zanoski moved the puck down to Berti. The play-making forward found Sullivan camped up at the top of the slot and Sullivan picked the top corner for his third goal of the year.
Charlotte answered with a power-play goal at 11:06, but it wasn't enough and Drew Paris iced the win with a short-handed empty-net goal at 19:46.