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San Jose at Carolina

Hurricanes keep pace with playoff chasers in East

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Cam Ward wasn't entirely back in his comfort zone.

Sure, he started in goal for the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time in nearly two weeks and showed little rust in stopping 20 shots. The problem was he had a buzz cut a day earlier when he had his head shaved for charity.

"It was a little bit different," Ward said. "I had a little bit of a breeze going out there."

Ward made the most of his return to the lineup and Andrew Ladd had two goals, helping Carolina beat the San Jose Sharks 6-4 Saturday.

Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Cory Stillman also scored for the Hurricanes, who improved to 5-1-1 in their past seven games as they chase a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina has 84 points and is tied with the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final position.

"You'd be stupid not to notice what was going on, but you've got to play to the best of your ability every game," Whitney said. "We put ourselves in this position."

The 23-year-old Ward missed three games with a laceration on his leg, then relieved John Grahame in a come-from-behind victory over Washington on Thursday. Ward, the playoff MVP last year when the Hurricanes captured the Stanley Cup, has wins in two straight outings to improve to 29-17-6 in his first full season as a starter in the NHL.

"The guys showed a lot of composure," Ward said. "That's a very dangerous hockey club over there."

Bill Guerin, Jonathan Cheechoo, Steve Bernier and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks, who remain solidly in the postseason picture in the Western Conference despite losing in regulation for the first time in more than three weeks. They came in with an 8-0-2 record in their past 10 games, including two victories to start a four-game road trip.

"I think they're a desperate team," Guerin said. "They probably just got themselves back in the playoff picture with that win. I think we were just a little bit on our heels."

Indeed, San Jose came out flat and fell behind 3-0 in the first period, only to make it close in the third period. But the Hurricanes held on, thanks to Guerin's 4-minute, high-sticking penalty.

That led to Ladd's second goal that made it 5-3 with slightly more than two minutes left. Even though the Sharks again got within one on Thornton's power-play goal seconds later, Carolina secured the much-needed victory with Stillman's empty-netter in the final seconds.

"It was good enough to win," Ladd said.

Ward was at his best late in the second period, when he stopped Cheechoo from point-blank range by sprawling to his left to knock down a shot with his glove. Moments earlier, Ward kept the puck out on the other side of the crease.

It was needed, too, as Cheechoo and Bernier brought San Jose within 4-3 in the third period.

Whitney got the Hurricanes going early, beating Evgeni Nabokov from between the circles for a 1-0 lead. Cole stuffed in a rebound less than a minute later, and Ladd did the same late in the period to make it 3-0.

"I don't know how to explain their first three goals," Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "The puck seemed to land on their sticks at just the right moments. That's not the kind of start we've been getting off to."

It was enough for San Jose coach Ron Wilson, who replaced Nabokov with Vesa Toskala to start the second period.

Guerin cut the margin to 3-1 on the power play, taking advantage of a screened Ward to rocket a slap shot in off the post.

Staal restored the three-goal cushion midway through the second, with plenty of help from Cory Stillman and Mike Commmodore. Stillman patiently held the puck in the San Jose zone until he found an opening, and he hit Commodore with a pass on the other side of the ice.

With a simple nudge of his stick, Commodore gave a perfect feed to Staal, who did the rest. He split defenders Scott Hannan and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to get to the net, and somehow knocked the puck between Toskala's legs.

"We need to win all of them," Ladd said. "A win's a win at this point of the season, and we'll take all we can get."

Notes

  • Carolina improved to 24-5-2 when scoring first. The Sharks return home to face Los Angeles on Tuesday. Stillman left the game in the first period after getting slammed in the boards. He gingerly made his way to the locker room before returning.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Erik Cole sees more than enough space to shoot the puck past Evgeni Nabokov for his 27th goal. (AP)
Erik Cole sees more than enough space to shoot the puck past Evgeni Nabokov for his 27th goal. (AP)
Scoreboard
San Jose (46-26-4)0134
Carolina  (38-29-8) «3126
Three Stars
A. Ladd
CAR


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
M. Commodore
CAR


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
R. Whitney
CAR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:36Ray Whitney (29), Snap Shot - Unassisted.
06:33Erik Cole (27), Snap Shot - Assists: David Tanabe, Frantisek Kaberle
18:03Andrew Ladd (12), Snap Shot - Assists: Glen Wesley, Scott Walker
2ND PERIOD
06:49Power Play - Bill Guerin (35), Slap Shot - Assists: Patrick Marleau, Matt Carle
12:29Eric Staal (29), Wrap Shot - Assists: Mike Commodore, Cory Stillman
3RD PERIOD
02:42Jonathan Cheechoo (31), Wrist Shot - Assists: Craig Rivet, Joe Thornton
10:11Steve Bernier (14), Slap Shot - Assist: Mike Grier
17:40Power Play - Andrew Ladd (13), Wrist Shot - Assists: Scott Walker, Josef Vasicek
18:04Power Play - Joe Thornton (21), Wrist Shot - Assists: Patrick Marleau, Craig Rivet
19:56Cory Stillman (5), Empty Net - Assist: Scott Walker
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
01:22Wesley: Delaying Game - 2 min.
09:55Vasicek: Holding the stick - 2 min.
12:31Clowe: Boarding - 2 min.
18:44Cheechoo: Roughing - 2 min.
18:44Commodore: Roughing - 2 min.
2ND PERIOD
00:25Rivet: Slashing - 2 min.
00:52Cheechoo: Holding the stick - 2 min.
05:23Whitney: Holding - 2 min.
15:34Clowe: Roughing - 2 min.
18:34Commodore: Boarding - 2 min.
3RD PERIOD
10:32Walker: Holding - 2 min.
12:53Ehrhoff: Hooking - 2 min.
15:27Guerin: High sticking - 2 min.
15:27Guerin: High sticking - 2 min.
17:58Commodore: Holding - 2 min.
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
San Jose581124
Carolina103720
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Evgeni Nabokov19:5473
Vesa Toskala38:5872
Cam Ward60:00204
Game Information
Attendance - 18763
Referees - Dave Jackson, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Tony Sericolo, Mark Wheler
 
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