|STL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|CAR||0||0||2||(0 - 0)||2|
Tracking the Storm: Analysis
Against a team like the St. Louis Blues that average less than two goals against per game, sometimes you just need a good bounce to get a win. That’s what the Carolina Hurricanes got tonight, and they also got a 40-save milestone shutout performance from Cam Ward. Chad LaRose scored the game-winning goal, and Jeff Skinner added another late in the period to seal the 2-0 victory. “You just have to stay with it,” Skinner said. “Sometimes you wonder when you’re going to get a bounce, but you’ve got to stay with it and make your own bounce.”
Ward’s shutout was the 20th of his career, which ties Arturs Irbe’s team record. It was also the 200th career victory for the 28-year-old goaltender. St. Louis peppered him with 25 saves through 40 minutes, and he was a big factor in the game remaining scoreless heading into the final period. “It means a lot to me … To be able win 200 games in this organization is something I’m proud of. I don’t want to stop now,” Ward said. “Hopefully I can add another 200.”
Muller on Ward: “He was really strong tonight from start to finish. He looked like he was really tracking the puck well. He looked really confident in the net, and that’s what we need from him,” he said. “That’s a nice milestone, and it’s a nice way to do it, too. He had to work for it, and it’s quite an accomplishment.”
LaRose scored his 15th goal of the season at the 12:08 mark of the third period, which ultimately was the game-winner. It came on a simple wrap-around chance that he was able to bang in after the high forward Andreas Nodl got the puck deep. “We were around the net all night. I kind of got a lucky bounce,” LaRose said. “I just tried to stuff it, got a good bounce and it ended up in the back of the net. Sometimes it happens in those types of games.”
Skinner’s goal – which came about five minutes later – was a beauty. Racing in on a two-on-one, Skinner had the puck poked away. He was able to locate it, kick it to his stick blade and score on a perfectly-placed glove-side high wrister – all in one, fluid motion. It’s a play like that that shows just how good he is. “I think we did a good job of [staying with it],” Skinner said. “It shows that when we compete as well as that, we can play anybody.”
Skinner was a common target for the Blues’ physicality. He drew an interference call, and probably could have had a few more in his favor. Despite the pinball nature of his game, he was able to channel it into the goal that cemented the Canes’ 27th win of the season. “I liked the energy and competitive edge that he played with tonight. And the nice thing is, he didn’t get off his game,” Muller said. “He focused it into more of the way he played the game. He created a lot of offensive stuff, and I thought he was very dangerous with the puck when he had it.”
This game was a close-checking match through two periods. It opened up a bit in the third, which LaRose credited to each team searching for that elusive first goal. Ward said the turning point in the game was the four-minute penalty kill in the first period, when LaRose was whistled for a high stick. “I thought we matched their intensity and physicality,” Ward said. “That four-minute penalty kill really set the momentum for our team.”
Tonight was another one of those “no passenger” games. Muller has often spoken of the consistent effort the team has put forth. And when they do, they can beat anyone in the League, including the top team in the NHL at the moment. The fans in Raleigh might not be graced with postseason play this season, but the way Muller has the team playing is certainly encouraging heading into next season. “There is a lot of fight in these guys,” he said. “They’re not going away.”
Recap (Associated Press)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Cam Ward couldn't have picked a better way to record his 200th NHL victory.
The Carolina Hurricanes goalie stopped 40 shots Thursday night to reach the milestone, shutting out the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory.
It was the 20th career shutout for Ward, tying Arturs Irbe for the most in a Hurricanes jersey. The 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner recorded his fourth shutout of the season.
"It means a lot to me," Ward said. "To win 200 games in this organization is something I'm proud of, but I don't want to stop now. ... We competed extremely hard. They've got a big, physical team and they've had a great season thus far."
"Cam was really strong tonight from start to finish and was really tracking the puck well," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "That was a nice milestone and a nice way to do it."
Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots for St. Louis, which is 13-2-2 against the Eastern Conference. The Blues had won the teams' other meeting this season, 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 21.
"We did a lot of good things," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "(But) when the game was on the line in the third period we didn't manage the puck well, and that was the difference in the hockey game."
St. Louis' Andy McDonald left the game late in the second after falling and hitting his right shoulder on the boards in a collision with Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu.
The Blues outshot the Hurricanes 13-12 in a scoreless first period. The Hurricanes killed off a 4-minute power play beginning at 10:07 when LaRose was called for high sticking.
Elliott had a huge save 5 minutes into the second when he got a hand on a loose puck off his glove-side post to prevent Andreas Nodl from poking it in.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal was penalized for a total of 4 minutes with 19 seconds to go in the second for tripping and slashing.
The Blues got a big break with about 9 minutes left in the third as Tim Brent hit the left post on a breakaway.
LaRose then got the winner a minute later, circling the net and beating Elliott with Nodl assisting.
"It was definitely a grinding game and we were prepared for that," LaRose said. "We battled it out and our goaltender played great. I kind of got a good bounce and put it in the back of the net."
Skinner added the clincher from the low slot on a breakaway with 2:38 to go.
NOTES: As of Thursday, the Hurricanes' home building is called PNC Arena, after previously being known as the RBC Center. PNC Financial Services Group bought RBC Bank in June of 2011. ... It was St. Louis' first visit to Raleigh since a 5-2 win on Oct. 28, 2009. ... Blues C Patrik Berglund played in his 300th NHL game, all with St. Louis. ... Carolina's Anthony Stewart and his brother Chris, both right wingers, played against each other for just the second time in their NHL careers. ... Blues C Jason Arnott (undisclosed injury, day-to-day) was out while D Kris Russell (concussion-like symptoms) missed his 11th straight game. ... Carolina F Jiri Tlusty (illness) missed his third straight game and D Jaroslav Spacek (lower body) his second.
|Tuomo Ruutu Tripping against Andy McDonald|
|Chris Stewart Tripping against Brandon Sutter|
|Chad LaRose Hi stick - double minor against Carlo Colaiacovo|
|Scott Nichol Tripping against Jeff Skinner|
|Eric Staal Tripping against Barret Jackman|
|Eric Staal Slashing against David Backes|
|Alex Pietrangelo Interference against Bryan Allen|
|Carlo Colaiacovo Interference against Jeff Skinner|
|Scott Nichol Illegal Check To Head against Drayson Bowman|
|Kevin Shattenkirk Hi stick - double minor against Eric Staal|
|SA: 30||TOI: 58:51|
|Saves: 28||EV: 20 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 8|
|SV%: .933||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 40||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 40||EV: 30 - 30|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 7|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 3 - 3|