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Recap: Ward, Canes Shut Out Sharks

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Analysis from Raleigh

→ It was a grind-it-out, chop wood, carry water-type of win for the Carolina Hurricanes, who broke a scoreless tie in the third period and handed the San Jose Sharks the first loss of their six-game road swing by a score of 1-0. Joakim Nordstrom scored the only goal and Cam Ward pitched a 22-save shutout.

"I think the whole team played really well," Nordstrom said. "Four lines really put pressure in their end, played solid in the neutral zone and played well defensively. A really good team win."

"I liked our game, and I like the direction we're headed," head coach Bill Peters said.

Video: Nordstrom, Ward lead Hurricanes to 1-0 home victory

→ It seemed like whatever the Hurricanes shot at Aaron Dell, who was playing in his third career game between the pipes, he was stopping. Whether it was a series of saves on a dominant Canes' shift or a stop on an odd-man rush up the ice, like he had on Lee Stempniak and Brock McGinn in the second period, Dell helped to keep his team a shot away from taking the lead in this contest.

But the Canes were relentless in their attack, and eventually their fourth line and Joakim Nordstrom helped the Canes to break through just past the midway point of the third period. Nordstrom worked his way into the slot with the puck and scored on a backhander, his first goal of the season.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I missed the first one, so I was happy to get a second chance," said Nordstrom, who was holding the team's postgame "chop wood, carry water" awards.

"Outstanding," Peters said of his fourth line. "It was a very productive night for that line."

Cam Ward didn't exactly see regular action in tonight's game, as the Sharks' offensive was mostly dormant for the second period, but he was sharp when called upon and was a deciding factor in the Canes' being able to snag two points in a low-scoring contest. Ward turned away all 22 shots he saw in his first shutout of the season and 24th of his career.

"We managed the puck really well and controlled the second period," Ward said. "Sometimes those can be difficult for a goaltender to just sit there, but tonight was a real quiet mind. I was real impressed with the guys playing in front of me."

In six games played in the month of November, Ward has allowed only 10 goals and has posted a 3-1-2 record, a 1.62 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

"The guys are playing really well in front of me, but it's exciting to get the ice time. You've got to earn that. You never want to take it for granted or get too comfortable," Ward said. "If you want to play, you've got to perform. The more you play, it becomes easier."

"He's been good in the month of November. Things go hand-in-hand; we're better in front of him, and he's better behind us," Peters said. "The schedule has allowed us to ride the hot goaltender, and that's what we'll continue to do for the foreseeable future."

Video: Hear from Ward, Pesce, Nordstrom and Peters postgame

→ One of the most dominating shifts we've seen this season came from the newly-dubbed "TSA line" in the first period. Together with the defensive pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce, the trio of Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho tirelessly worked the puck around the offensive zone, controlling possession and dipping into open lanes, essentially playing to what amounted to a game of keep-away on skates. Though the shift did not result in a penalty or goal, it was one of the most impressive two-minute segments the Canes have had this season.

"That's a great way to start the game, right?" Peters said. "You're starting on time, you have a dominating shift, you have something to build off of, the bench is excited and they want to follow that up and duplicate that success. Real good job by them setting the tone for us, and I thought everybody else kind of fell in line."

Staal had been on the ice for more than two minutes before he began to roll a line change while his team continued to possess the puck in the offensive zone.

"That's a long shift. That's abnormal. Change on offense," Peters said. "A guy I used to coach with always said, 'Leave the next group something good to work with.' So if you can leave them the puck in the offensive zone playing against tired guys, that's something good to work with."

→ Though the game was scoreless through 40 minutes of play, the Canes were dominant in possession. They limited the Sharks' chances, holding San Jose to 14 shots in two periods, including just two in the second frame.

"The first period was real up-and-down, and they were stretching us out a little bit. The guys made some real good adjustments for the final 40 minutes, and I thought we had the puck lots moving forward after the first 20," Peters said. "I thought the first 20 was even, and I really liked our second period. I thought we were solid and real composed coming down the stretch."

→ With tonight's win, the Hurricanes have now strung together consecutive victories for the first time this season - and they've done so against two of the best teams in the league.

"You've got to build some momentum. Certainly these last two games have been our best games of the year. We did it in a real good fashion, playing the way we really wanted to play. We dominated at times. That's a compliment to the guys because those are two very tough teams," Ward said. "We show what we can do when we're on it for sure."

→ Two games this weekend remain in the Hurricanes' five-game homestand. First up is Montreal on Friday night, followed by a visit from the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday evening.

"It's starting to come together. I like the way we're playing," Peters said. "I thought we built off our last game against Washington, and now we've got to continue to do that moving forward."

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