Tracking the Storm: Postgame
-- The Carolina Hurricanes closed out their six-game preseason schedule with their third straight win, a 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, which brings the team’s exhibition record to an even 3-3. Cam Ward recorded an 18-save shutout, and Patrick Dwyer netted the lone goal, a shorthanded tally in the second period. “With it being our last exhibition game, you want to end it on a high note,” Ward said. “We stuck with our game, and it’s great to walk away with a win going into the regular season.”
-- For the Hurricanes, it’s a positive sign that their three wins came when the team iced a lineup that might closely resemble their opening night group. “You could tell we’ve progressed a lot throughout the exhibitions,” Jordan Staal said. “It’s just nice to get that team game together.”
-- For Cam Ward, it’s a positive sign that his game has trended upward in his last two starts, as he’s made 43 saves on his last 44 shots faced. “These last two games for myself, personally, have gotten much, much better, and I feel like I’m heading in the right direction,” he said. “It’s a positive to play in the exhibition season. I lacked that last year and struggled because of it. I was able to work out some kinks in the first two games and feel much better in the last two.”
-- Head coach Kirk Muller talked this morning about the team’s continued effort to limit the opposition’s scoring chances in five-on-five play. It’s no coincidence the team has done that with great success in their last three games, all wins. “That’s three games in a row that we’re really pleased with that commitment that the guys are starting to make and understanding that if you do it, you can get success,” Muller said.
-- I have a feeling Muller much preferred his team’s first period effort tonight over last night’s sluggish start. The Canes were aggressive and sharp, forcing Ryan Miller to make 17 saves, and they held the Sabres to zero shots on an early power play. “It’s great to see a shutout from Wardo,” Staal said. “Not only did he play great, but we played great defensively.
-- Though it certainly wasn’t penciled in as the second line at the outset of training camp, the trio of Staal, Dwyer and Nathan Gerbe has been worth the price of admission of late. The line combined for 12 of the team’s 30 shots, and Gerbe had a team-high eight of them alone. “We seem to have found a little chemistry, and I think the key to it is work ethic,” Dwyer said.
-- Muller on the second-line threesome, thrown together after injuries depleted the ranks: “Yeah, it wasn’t the plan,” he said, smiling. “We’d like to say that we thought of that, but with the injuries, we just mixed things around. It’s been really good chemistry.”
-- The Hurricanes face an off day on Saturday before getting back on the ice at 3 p.m. on Sunday for a team practice. Final roster cuts won’t come tonight, but they are looming as the regular season draws ever near. “We’re going to wait,” Muller said. “A lot will depend on personnel and who’s going to be available.”