Ward stuffed Crosby in the shootout to complete a stellar outing in his first start, and Cory Stillman's goal in the tiebreaker was enough to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
"Obviously, he's a first-class player and deserves all the attention he gets," Carolina's 21-year-old goaltender said of his fellow rookie Crosby. "I was just fortunate to come out on the winning side."
With Carolina ahead in the shootout after Stillman scored in the first round, Crosby was Pittsburgh's last chance. The 18-year-old phenom skated in and shot low, but Ward was up to the task after Lemieux and Ziggy Palffy also failed to beat him in the first two rounds.
"I was very thankful to get this opportunity, and to have it against one of the best players ever to play hockey," Ward said of Lemieux. "I'm going to remember it for the rest of my life."
Ward immediately raised both arms after his clinching save and headed to the bench, where he received congratulations from his teammates.
"He was unbelievable," Eric Staal said. "He's a great competitor, and I'm sure he had a lot of fun in there stopping Lemieux, Crosby and Palffy."
The Penguins tied it with 1:24 left in regulation when Crosby fed a cross-ice pass to Palffy, who backhanded the puck past Ward to make it 2-2. The tying goal came during a 4-on-3 advantage after a double minor for high-sticking by Niclas Wallin and a hooking penalty on Oleg Tverdovsky. Pittsburgh's Ryan Malone was in the penalty box for slashing.
It was Crosby's lone point of the game, giving him a pair of assists in two NHL games.
"The first period was kind of rough, but after that, we started working," Crosby said. "We just needed to play more desperate."
Ward finished with 28 saves, and he played like a veteran in replacing the injured Martin Gerber (hip). Last season was Ward's first as a professional, and he set franchise records at Lowell of the AHL for victories (27), shutouts (6), save percentage (.937) and goals-against (1.99).
His introduction to the NHL came early, when Lemieux had a chance from in close. But Ward stopped that shot, and did the same minutes later on Mark Recchi's wrist shot after a behind-the-back, touch pass from Crosby.
"Usually, you're just not around a goalie that's 21," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "If they are available to you, they're usually not that poised."
Stillman and Staal scored in the first period to give Carolina a 2-0 lead. The Penguins got within 2-1 on a power-play goal by Malone, the first one of the game that came with the man-advantage.
An unofficial assist could have gone to referee Paul Devorski, who accidentally deflected Bret Hedican's attempt to clear the puck. It bounced right to Malone, who beat Ward from the short-side.
"The chances are there, it's going to come," Lemieux said. "One of these games, we are going to explode for a few goals and get our confidence back. I think the guys are a little uptight right now."
- Carolina D Bret Hedican played in his 800th career game.
- Both teams are in action Saturday night. The Hurricanes travel to New York to play the Islanders, and Pittsburgh will face the Boston Bruins in its home opener.
- The only fight came in the second period, when Carolina's Jesse Boulerice squared off against Ryan Vandenbussche. Boulerice clearly got the better of it, and when he got to the penalty box, several of his teammates came by to congratulate him.