Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- Game No. 500 was going to be a special one for Cam Ward, but the Carolina Hurricanes ensured it was even more memorable as they put together a 4-1 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
"It was clear that our guys wanted to put in a really strong effort tonight, and I really appreciate that," Ward said. "It makes it a lot sweeter when you walk out of here with a win.”
"I think the guys wanted to make sure it was a memorable night. 500, and you look at the group that he’s with … there’s Stanley Cup winners, Conn Smythe winners, Olympians, he’s in tall cotton," head coach Bill Peters said. "He’s elite in my opinion."
-- In his 500th career NHL game, Cam Ward turned in a beauty of a performance. He made 24 saves in his 16th win of the season and 240th win of his career.
"I was a little bit anxious and a little bit jittery in the first period, I’m not going to lie," he said. "The puck seemed to be bouncing off me in the first period, but I was really able to calm down in the second and third and felt a lot more relaxed."
One of his particularly dazzling sequences came in the final seven minutes of the game, when he bodied down a chance from Sean Courturier and then snuffed out Andrew MacDonald’s chance through traffic to earn a whistle and preserve a two-goal lead for his team.
Fittingly, Ward was named the first star of the game and was awarded the fireman's helmet in the locker room.
"The guys were sacrificing, and I thought we were in control for a majority of the night against a very good team as of late," Ward said. "[The win] made it that much sweeter. Thankfully my parents flew in yesterday and were able to come to the game. To feel good after the game after getting a win makes it that much better.”
"His demeanor and approach has been good. It’s been a tough couple of years. You want more, and you want better," Eric Staal said. "This year, a credit to him, he came in with the right mindset and attitude. With the help of Dave, he’s been a very, very solid player for us. He’s had a great year."
Faulk’s power-play goal opened the scoring at 7:29 of the first period, his shot an absolute clapper from the top of the near circle that smoked past Rob Zepp.
"He gets better and better all the time, and will get better," Peters said. "He’s a young D-man who is going to become an elite D-man in this league, and it’s going to happen pretty quickly in my opinion."
The Flyers would tie the game off the stick of Nick Grossman heading into the first intermission, but the Canes regained in the lead in the middle frame and held onto it for the balance of the contest.
Semin streaked down the near wing and fed Jeff Skinner with a sizzling cross-ice feed that No. 53 finished off for his fifth goal in seven games. Later in the second period, a rebound off a Semin shot would be cleaned up by Jordan Staal for the team’s second power-play goal in three tries. Semin, playing in his 144th game with the Hurricanes tonight, now has 100 points with the franchise.
"Not many guys can make that pass or have that vision, and he put it right on his stick. Skins, as we all know, can really finish," Ward said. "It seemed like everybody was really clicking. It was a complete effort from everybody."
-- Also playing in a milestone game tonight was forward Brad Malone, who hit the century mark in career NHL games played. In the third period, an aggressive forecheck by the Hurricanes’ fourth line led to Malone getting the puck down low, and he fed Jay MacClement in the slot for a top-shelf beauty.
"The Nash line scored, the McClement line scored and both power play units scored, so that’s spread out. We’re a team looking for offense, and earlier in the year we were starving for it," Peters said. "Now we’re starting to get more of it on a consistent basis, but I liked the fact that we didn’t have to open up or do anything on the risky thing to generate the offense that we did get. That’s when we play our best."
-- In net for the Flyers tonight was Rob Zepp, a 2001 draft pick (4th round) of the Carolina Hurricanes. Zepp made his NHL debut earlier this season and now 5-2-0 in eight career appearances.
The Canes seemed to make it a point to throw anything and everything toward him, and Semin led the way with seven shots.
"I thought Sems was real good," Peters said. "He moved his feet and shot the puck. ... That's his biggest asset: the ability to shoot and score from distance. When he's working hard to shoot and generate offense, obviously good things are going to happen."
-- The Hurricanes will honor Cam Ward’s 500th game with a pregame ceremony prior to Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals, which is also the final home game in the month of February.
"I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this organization and get the opportunities I’ve been given. I don’t take that for granted," Ward said. "We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, but I definitely choose to remember all the good. I love playing in this city, and I’ve made it clear that our family considers this home."