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Gameday: Ward Returns in Net vs. Bruins

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Cam Ward will get the starting nod in net for the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night against the Boston Bruins, a week after returning to practice with the team.

Michael Smith
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Tonight’s game will mark Ward’s first appearance since Oct. 24 in Minnesota. Just over four minutes into that contest, Ward left the game with a lower-body injury after outstretching his leg to make a save on a Wild rush.

“Cam is ready to go. It’s great news, and we’re excited for him to be healthy again,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s a great opportunity for him, so he’s got the start tonight.”

Ward has logged 25 career games against the Bruins, notching a 12-11-2 record with three shutouts, a 2.60 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. In 2011-12, Ward backstopped the Canes to a sweep of their season series with Boston; he made 139 saves on 144 shots (.965 save percentage), including a 47-save shutout to complete the sweep.

The Canes will need that sort of effort in net tonight, as they are facing a 12-6-1 Bruins squad and are without Alexander Semin (upper body) and Jeff Skinner (upper body), two elite goal-scorers.

“They’re pretty consistent There are no surprises with Boston. They’re going to come in and play that grinding style,” Muller said. “It’s important that we really focus on our game and keep a high tempo and quick pace for 60 minutes to beat a good hockey club like Boston.”

With Ward back in the crease, the Canes won’t alter their game plan that resulted in a five-game point streak at home, with victories over top teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks.

“We’re hard to play against right now. We’ve taken a lot of pride in goals against. We’re not giving up much, and we’re sticking to the game plan. We’re playing a good, solid 60 minutes, and we’ve got everyone on board,” Muller said. “We’re not scoring a lot, but we’re not giving up much. The result gives us a chance to pick up some points each night.”

In part, the Canes can attribute that success to being able to roll four forward lines consistently, even despite the injuries that have popped up throughout the lineup. Tonight, those lines will take on a bit of a different look.

With Semin out, Tuomo Ruutu and Drayson Bowman surrounded Eric Staal on the first line. The second line remained intact, and we will likely see Jiri Tlusty and Chris Terry with Riley Nash in the middle on the third line.

Radek Dvorak will draw back into the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. He will skate on the fourth line with Manny Malhotra centering and likely Mike Komisarek on the opposite wing.

Defenseman Jay Harrison did not skate this morning and will not play. Tim Gleason should slide back to the left side with Ryan Murphy pairing on the right.

“We’re able to throw four lines out, and everyone’s working,” Muller said. “When you’ve got 20 guys committed to the game plan, you give yourself a chance to win every night. That’s what we’ve been able to do.”

Having just turned 25 years old in September, Jordan Staal will play in his 500th career NHL game tonight. In 25 career games against the Bruins, he’s recorded 17 points (4g, 13a). This season, he ranks tied for third on the team in goals (3).

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