RALEIGH, N.C. – Goaltender Cam Ward made 22 saves and led the Carolina Hurricanes to a 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
Joakim Nordstrom scored his first goal of the season and was the difference-maker who led the Hurricanes to their second consecutive win at home, following a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
The shutout was Ward’s first of the season and 24th of his career, and added to his franchise-leading record in that category.
“I felt comfortable and composed,” Ward said.
“I wasn’t too intense or anything like that; just kinda had a level head and I felt real comfortable out there. Our guys competed real hard tonight, especially that first period. They got some chances, but we were able to tie up sticks on rebounds which is key. That’s not easy to do against the Sharks because they’re a big team that plays hard in front and our guys did an excellent job of tying up sticks.”
Following two scoreless periods, during which Carolina outshot San Jose 23-14, Stalberg did all the work on the eventual game-winning play that came at 10:48 in the third.
After gaining possession of the puck in the Carolina zone, he carried it through the neutral zone and across the San Jose line until he found Nordstrom open in the slot.
After Sharks netminder Aaron Dell made a shoulder save on his first shot, Nordstrom followed upon his attempt and successfully tucked a backhanded effort low past the keeper’s trapper.
“He (Stalberg) made a real nice play to me,” Nordstrom said.
“Jay-Mac (Jay McClement) driving the net as the first guy in there opened up a spot for me coming in as the late guy. Pretty nice play by both of them.”
In making his third career start and first against Carolina, Dell made 32 saves in the losing effort.
Carolina outshot and outworked San Jose, winning many puck battles.
The effort wasn’t enough for the Sharks to overcome according to head coach Pete DeBoer.
“They’re tight on you, they’re pressed up, they skate well,” he said of the Hurricanes’ play.
“You have to put pucks in good places and then you have to win battles, and we didn’t do enough of either.”
Carolina dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 69 percent (34-49) of all draws taken and was critical to starting with and maintaining puck possession throughout the game according to Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters.
“I thought we had the puck lots tonight,” Peters said.
“Part of it was the faceoff execution, not only winning it, but doing good things with it.
“I thought the first 20 we were even. I really like our second period, and I thought we were very solid and composed coming down the stretch.”
Tuevo Teravainen led Carolina with six shots on goal, many of them coming during a two minute-plus possession sequence in the first period.
Nordstrom and Sebastian Aho, who scored his first two goals of the season against the Caps, put four shot attempts on Dell as well.
At the other end, Ward tried to keep it simple while preparing for what the Sharks would present throughout.
“You just try to keep a quiet mind,” he said.
“Less thinking is sometimes better, and tonight I just felt real comfortable with where I was at despite not facing a whole lot of shots. They’re gonna get the opportunity late with the extra man, but fortunately I was able to get a leg on that tip.”
The victorious result showed signs of good things finally coming together for a Hurricanes team that stands at 5-6-4 and looking to ascend upwards from its current positon in second-last place in the Metropolitan Division.
“It’s huge,” Ward concluded.
“You’ve gotta build some momentum and certainly these last two games have been our best two games of the year. We did it in a real good fashion, playing the way that we really wanted to play and dominated at times. That’s a compliment to the guys because those are two very tough teams. It’s not gonna get any easier, but we show what we can do when we’re on for sure.”
Notes: In the month of November, Ward has allowed just 10 goals in six games played and has posted a 3-1-2 record with a 1.62 GAA and a .941 save percentage during that span…Carolina won 11-of-13 defensive zone faceoffs, a large contribution to its overall domination on the draw…Stalberg’s assist on Nordstrom’s game-winning goal was his first Hurricanes assist.