The winningest goalie in Carolina history took the loss in his first game here as a visitor, with Sebastian Aho scoring 1:16 into overtime to lift the Hurricanes past Ward's new team, the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2 and spoiling the goalie's emotional return.
''Obviously, I have a lot to be thankful for, my 13 years here, and wanted to put forth a strong effort,'' Ward said. ''Unfortunately, we came to win, and it just slipped away there in overtime.''
Teuvo Teravainen and Micheal Ferland scored power-play goals 66 seconds apart late in the second period for Carolina, which has earned points in three straight and beat Chicago for the second time in four nights. But the two wins over the Blackhawks are their only victories since Oct. 26.
''We haven't won a lot lately and obviously, we need wins to get some confidence,'' Aho said. ''We've played in many games well, but we haven't found a way to get those wins, but this one feels definitely good.''
Carolina's Scott Darling made 33 saves against his former team, in regulation coming up with a slick glove save to stop Patrick Kane on a 2-on-1 and making a left pad save to stop Nick Schmaltz on a breakaway.
Aho's winner came after he took a pass at the blue line, then skated in before drifting across the net and beating Ward with a wrist shot. Ward had stopped Aho on a breakaway earlier in the game and he wanted another shot at his former teammate.
''I got the second chance and I saw (Ward) going down and it was east-west and I knew he had to move,'' Aho said.
For Ward, it was a tough end to his first game as a visitor in the arena where he won the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy and hoisted the Stanley Cup.
He set franchise records with 318 victories, 568 starts and 27 shutouts during 13 seasons with the Hurricanes before he was allowed to leave as a free agent and signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Blackhawks in July while Carolina opted to give Petr Mrazek a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
''I think it took me a little bit to calm down,'' Ward said. ''Obviously there were a little bit of nerves coming back, coming back and playing your former team, you so badly want to play well, and I felt like as the game progressed, it got better and better.''
Toews scored the game's first goal with 10:53 left in the first. Parked in front of Darling, he redirected Henri Jokiharju's one-time blast from the point for his third goal in six games. DeBrincat made it a 2-0 game with 9:11 left in the second with a blast from between the circles.
Carolina tied it with two rapid-fire power-play goals. Teravainen made it 2-1 three seconds into a delay of game minor on Brent Seabrook, and Ferland followed with his goal 26 seconds into Jokiharju's slashing penalty.
''Gave up two quick goals, not fun, but still had our chances to try and distance ourselves in the game,'' Toews said. ''Just the way things are going right now that we didn't find a way to get up a few more goals or two.''
NOTES: Carolina LW Jordan Martinook and Seabrook traded punches midway through the third after Seabrook hit Hurricanes rookie RW Andrei Svechnikov into the boards. Seabrook received a boarding minor while Martinook was whistled for roughing. ... A former Hurricane missed his homecoming, with Chicago C Marcus Kruger out with a left leg injury. ... Carolina has scored power-play goals in four straight games.
Blackhawks: Return home to face St. Louis on Wednesday night.
Hurricanes: Continue their six-game homestand Saturday night against Columbus.
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