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Hurricanes' Ward continues to roll in win vs. Flames

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It took the Carolina Hurricanes a while to find their stride, but once they did, they never let off the gas.

Justin Faulk had a goal and two assists and Cam Ward stopped 22 shots to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-1 win Monday against the Calgary Flames at PNC Arena.

Ward has won five straight starts during Carolina's current 5-0-1 stretch. The Flames fell to 9-6-2, completing a five-game road trip with a 3-2-0 record.

The loss left Calgary coach Bob Hartley disappointed. He had hoped the Flames would seize the chance to finish their road trip 4-1, but they never found an offensive gear.

"[The Hurricanes] deserve credit," Hartley said. "They were the better team. All over, from their first to their last player, they were better than us."

Calgary scored first with a power-play goal at 13:07 of a tight-checking first period. The Flames moved the puck neatly through all five skaters in succession, with David Jones scoring on a Curtis Glencross pass from below the goal line.

But the Hurricanes gained some energy when Zach Boychuk tied the game more than four minutes later. After taking a stretch pass from Faulk, Boychuk fought off defenseman Dennis Wideman before getting off a shot from below the left faceoff circle that beat Flames goalie Jonas Hiller high to the short side.

With four shots through the first 15 minutes, the goal seemed to change the tide of the game.

"Especially down one, it's a nice feeling coming into the locker room after that," Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner said. "He had a great effort on that goal. We got our legs under us then."

Carolina coach Bill Peters agreed that Boychuk's goal lifted the team out of a slow start.

"We got better once Boychuk scored," Peters said. "We got going a little bit better, then all of a sudden we won a few shifts in a row and had some momentum and we were good."

Carolina opened up the offensive play in the second period. After a Devin Setoguchi penalty for holding the stick, Faulk needed four seconds to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead. Riley Nash won a faceoff back to Faulk, who beat Hiller at 4:50.

Skinner's 100th NHL goal pushed the Carolina lead to 3-1 at 12:15. Semin peeled off to the boards before leaving a backhand pass for Skinner, who charged through the right circle and fired a shot inside the far post.

"He's so creative," Ward said of Skinner. "He can really surprise some D-men and make things happen out of nothing. To top it off, he has a great release and can put the puck in the net. I'm sure were going to see many more goals as he gets along in his career."

Skinner took a turn setting up a goal midway through the third period to give Carolina a 4-1 lead. His centering pass from along the boards bounced off the skate of Calgary's TJ Brodie and onto the stick of charging defenseman Tim Gleason, who buried a shot for his first goal of the season.

"All the defenseman have the right to pinch in the right situation," Peters said. "Gleason would be known as a defensive defenseman around the League, but we pinch to play offense. We want to keep it alive and stay in the offensive zone."

Outshot 12-5 in the third period, Calgary never mustered a push in the face of a two-goal deficit. Hartley noted that the game might have taken on a different look if Hiller had been sharper.

"I think he would like to see the first two goals [again]," the Flames coach said. "For me, there is no doubt he can make the saves on those two goals. He's been so good for us, but he was like the rest of the team. To find a player who had a good game on our team, I can't find one."

And the difference between earning a 4-1 record on the trip versus settling for 3-2?

"It's an OK trip," Hartley said. "[We got] the first goal. After that, we let them come on. That's not typical of this hockey club. We're better than this and we know it. Tomorrow morning, it's going to be OK. But this is going to be a hard one to swallow."

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