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Ward's hat trick leads Sharks past Hurricanes

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward continues to make a strong impression on his new team.

Ward had his second NHL hat trick, leading the Sharks to a 5-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at SAP Center on Saturday.

Ward scored two goals in the first period, giving San Jose a 2-0 lead, then hit the empty net with 56.1 seconds left to play. His other hat trick came on Nov. 1, 2013, with the Washington Capitals against the Philadelphia Flyers. He has five goals and eight points for the season and leads the Sharks in both categories.

"I've always believed in myself," said Ward, who signed with San Jose as a free agent on July 3. "I know I'm not the prettiest hockey player, but I've always believed in my abilities. I've hit 20 goals before. I've come close a couple times. It's just once you gain that trust and earn that respect from the guys, I think that confidence keeps building."

Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels also scored for San Jose (5-3-0), which ended its three-game losing streak. Martin Jones made 32 saves.

Justin Faulk and Riley Nash scored for Carolina (2-6-0). Backup goaltender Eddie Lack gave up four goals on 13 shots in his second start of the season and was replaced by Cam Ward at 9:09 of the second period with San Jose leading 4-1.

"We need a little more desperation," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "I thought we gave up too many odd-man rushes. We were a little loose, poor on some decision-making and lost some one-on-one battles."

Ward gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead 1:21 into the game with his 100th NHL goal.Tomas Hertl took a long cross-ice pass fromBrent Burns, got past defenseman Noah Hanifin and ripped a shot from the left circle. Lack stopped that shot but couldn't control the rebound, and Ward knocked it past him from close range.

Ward made it 2-0 at 8:32, scoring on a 2-on-1 rush. Ward lifted a shot from the right circle to the far side, beating a sprawling Lack. Peters challenged the goal, claiming the Sharks were offside before Ward scored, but after a video review the call stood.

"We all knew he was a good player," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of Ward. "When we signed him, we talked about putting him into a prominent role right off the bat. He's typically played in more of a depth checking role in the places he's been. When I had him in the World Championships a couple years ago, he led our team in scoring.

"Watched him last year in the playoffs [with the Capitals]. You know he has that element. I thought he'd be a real complementary guy to some of the guys in our top six and when he plays with good players, he has the ability to put pucks in the net. And he's done a great job."

Carolina cut San Jose's lead to 2-1 at 2:39 of the second period when Faulk scored on the Hurricanes' third power play of the game. He fired a slap shot from above the left circle, beating Jones through the five-hole. It was Carolina's third power-play goal of the season, all by Faulk.

Pavelski answered with a goal at 6:08. Marc-Edouard Vlasic sent a long shot wide left, and the puck bounced off the boards and into the crease, between Lack's pads. Pavelski poked the loose puck over the goal line for his third goal of the season.

Wingels increased San Jose's lead to 4-1 at 9:09 when he fired a wrist shot from the left circle that bounced off Lack's glove and trickled between his pads. Before Lack could cover the puck, Wingels poked it over the goal line.

Peters then pulled Lack and replaced him with Cam Ward, who started Friday in Carolina's 3-0 loss to Los Angeles at Staples Center, and stopped all seven shots he faced.

Nash, who returned after missing five games with a shoulder injury, scored his first goal of the season at 10:43, cutting San Jose's lead to 4-2. He controlled the puck behind the net and banked it in off Jones' right arm.

The Hurricanes have scored a total of four goals in their past four games, three of them losses. They are 2-3-0 on a seven-game road trip that continues with games against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and the New York Islanders on Thursday.

"We need to get some confidence going and start scoring some goals," Hurricanes forward Kris Versteeg said. "I think we're getting shots on net but we need a little more traffic."

Ward took a pass from Burns and hit the empty net, triggering a flurry of hats.

"It's always a good feeling to get up on the board," Ward said. "I think our line's been a little bit snake-bitten in the past, just getting scored on. So it was good to come out here today and get some chances, get some bounces. On a personal note, it was good. Just continue to keep building, try to earn the respect of my teammates and linemates going forward."

Sharks defenseman Paul Martin returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. He blocked two shots and had two hits. Forward John McCarthy, who was recalled Saturday from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League, made his NHL season debut, skating on the fourth line.

Carolina rookie defenseman Brett Pesce played 16:58 in his NHL debut.

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