Cam Ward Shines in Hurricanes’ First Win

Cam Ward, like his teammates, was dressed in the Carolina Hurricanes 3rd uniform. The all black-clad Canes skated onto the ice to a crowd of just under 11,000, back on their home ice for the first time since October 14th. Still without a win, Carolina faced off against the Arizona Coyotes. The result was amazing.

The lineup looked a bit more as it should, with the previously injured Patrick Dwyer and Nathan Gerbe returning to form. As the teams squared off, the absence of the highly paid Alexander Semin was strangely not noticeable. This ‘Canes team was playing with speed and determination, and the star that shined brightly was Cam Ward’s. His play in-goal was spectacular, saving 25 of the 25 shots he faced, and brought to mind the former Ward in top-form.

Elias Lindholm broke the ice

Having gone scoreless in the entire month of October, it was great to see Elias Lindholm break the ice and notch his first and second goals of the season.  “Lindy” is one of this team’s young guns, who has shown sparks of brilliance in his still early career.

Lindholm was to the left of Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith who was scrambling on the ice after the puck. Caught up in the tangle of the scrum, Lindholm stayed focused and scooped the loose puck into the net while falling backwards.  A superb demonstration of staying with the play to the very end.  This gave the Hurricanes the early lead, something that has been elusive to them for the most part so far this season.

Lindholm’s 2nd goal came at 17:22 in the 1st, another loose puck in front of the goal mouth finding the back of the net.  After the game, Lindholm said that getting his first and second will, hopefully him give some confidence and that he can play better. As “Lindy” continues to work hard every day, he affirmed that his “comfort everywhere on the ice is increasing” and this can only be a good sign for the ‘Canes.

At the end of the 1st period

it was 2-0 Carolina.  The goose egg for the Coyotes was maintained by superb play on the penalty kill by Cam Ward.  At 8:59, Justin Faulk was given a 2:00 breather for interference, followed by Jiri Tlusty’s slashing penalty at 10:47.  This gave the Coyotes a 5 on 3 advantage for :13 seconds, but Ward stood strong and denied the Coyotes and their efforts to get on the scoreboard.  It was during this penalty kill that I felt we were seeing something special from Cam Ward, as he seemed much more confident than in previous outings this season.

Ward’s confidence noticeably grew throughout the game, and he kept his shutout to the very end.  At 18:16, Brad Malone was given a 2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for an extracurricular, unnecessary shove. I wondered if Malone would incur a similar fate as did Alexander Semin who was chapped by Coach Peters for his unnecessary unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the ‘Canes’ previous outing. The Bible says “love covers a multitude of sins,” and I bet that winning does, also. I fully expect to see Malone back on the ice in tonight’s game versus the Los Angeles Kings.

The penalty kill effort at this end-game penalty was magnificent. Cam Ward rose to the occasion with a couple of playoff-caliber saves. He and the team were not going to be denied not only giving Coach Peters his first NHL win, but a shutout as well. As a reward for his spectacular play, “Wardo” got a very special surprise from Coach Peters.

Cam Ward get the 1st fireman’s hat

In the locker room after game, Cam Ward was fielding questions from myself and other members of the media gathered around his locker. He was sporting a shiny new fireman’s hat, with a bright Carolina Hurricanes logo prominently displayed on the front. He said it had been presented to him by Coach Peters after the game. He looked great:

Further investigation about the hat was a given, and Coach Peters was asked about during his post-game press conference. When asked, “Why the fire hat?” he explained,

“To me those guys are heroes, right? Everyone’s running from a fire and they’re going the other way, they’re going in, they save lives…I have a lot of respect for them. When a guy gets that award, he’s the player of the game for me. I just think there’s a big significance to it.”

Certainly Elias Lindholm could have been looked at as the player of the game for the Hurricanes. But Cam Ward “gave us a chance to play with the lead,” Peters said. In a season that has been void of that scenario for the ‘Canes, Ward was well-deserving, but also very humble, acknowledging the play of his teammates as a big part of his success.

“Any goaltender will tell you, you can’t do it without your teammates. Fortunately I felt like I was seeing the puck very well, but that was because of the way the players were playing in front of me.”

Ward was asked about the game puck, and he said he definitely presented it to Coach Peters, and was thrilled to do so, noting that it was not only his first NHL win as a head coach, but a shutout win at that. Coach Peters will be able to look back and know with certainly that Cam Ward was a huge part of his receiving his first puck as an NHL head coach. If he plays going forward like he did last night, Cam Ward may be sporting the fire hat regularly, and giving plenty more pucks to his coach. Ward was spectacular.

Random Notes

Justin Faulk was hit in the face with the puck near the end of the 1st period and left the ice for medical attention. He came back in the 2nd period and got his 2nd assist of the game on Jiri Tlusty’s 3rd period goal. He has some nice stitches to go with his being named the 3rd star of the game.

Coach Peters said after the game that “winning hurts” and I suppose Jiri can attest to that maxim.

(Photo: Andy Martin Jr)
Tim Gleason has upped his game for the Carolina Hurricanes this year. (Photo: Andy Martin Jr)

Tim Gleason marked his 500th game last night in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform. In his 9th season with the ‘Canes, the return of Gleason is nothing but a positive, as the grit and toughness he brings night in and night out are definitely needed.

The Hurricanes penalty kill has been very good this season. The Hurricanes entered last night’s game ranked 21st in the NHL in penalty kill percentage. After killing all three Arizona power plays, Carolina has allowed just two power-play goals and has killed 22 of 24 penalties over the last
seven games.

The next opponent the Carolina Hurricanes face is Sunday afternoon at 5pm. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings will visit Raleigh’s PNC Arena. Will Cam Ward be able to turn in another spectacular performance? His counterpart Jonathan Quick will no doubt bring his usual great play. This will be a huge test for this team that is getting healthy and has their first win. I can’t wait.