By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes earned two more points against the Boston Bruins, and posted a 4-3 overtime win in front of 11,820 in attendance at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Sebastian Aho led the Hurricanes with two goals including the overtime winner, while Derek Ryan and Jay McClement netted singles in the winning effort.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward made his 16th straight start and recorded the win, making 32 stops in the process.
He now stands at 15-12-6 on the season with a 2.28 goals-against average and .915 save percentage to go with two shutouts.
“I feel good,” Ward said.
“My legs felt as good as they’ve felt all season long today. As long as you’re managing your body the right way, I feel like I can go most every night.”
Having never played against the Hurricanes, Bruins rookie netminder Zane McIntyre made his first appearance in Raleigh and challenged every shot, facing 30 of them throughout.
You would expect a former Hobey Baker finalist and the American Hockey League’s (AHL) December Goaltender of the Month to do that.
“A lot of puck pressure by both teams,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“Both goaltenders made big saves. There was a lot of rebounds, so I thought Ward did a really good job there.”
In containing and slowing the Hurricanes’ (18-15-7) offensive pace, the Bruins (21-17-5) responded at the other end and capitalized on a defensive turnover by Ward to take a 1-0 lead with 6:50 remaining in the first period.
Former Hurricanes forward Riley Nash pounced on the puck behind the Carolina net and fed it to Dominic Moore at the left faceoff dot before he slid it across the slot to Tim Schaller who one-timed it past Ward.
Trailing by one after 20 minutes, the puck then bounced with some luck in Carolina’s favor and got the better of the young, dynamic goalie the Hurricanes faced.
After failing to capitalize on a breakaway on McIntyre, Aho got his redemption when a fortuitous puck redirect and bounce up and over the keeper fell into the net at the 2:57 mark of the second.
Later in the period, going in on a 2-on-1 with Jordan Staal, Ryan managed to slide the puck under McIntyre’s pad and off the left post to put Carolina ahead 2-1.
Carrying the one-goal advantage into the final period, Ward continued to make critical stops behind porous defensive play.
That lasted until David Backes tucked away a pad save in Ward’s crease at the 5:49 mark.
Standing at the top of Ward’ crease with defenseman Justin Faulk, Backes got free after Ward stopped Kevan Millar’s point shot, and tied the game 2-2.
Carolina answered quickly with the grinder line of McClement, Viktor Stalberg, and Joakim Nordstrom connecting to reestablish a one-goal lead at the 7:20 mark.
McClement scored his second goal in his last three games, redirecting a feed from Stalberg in close past McIntyre, and put Carolina ahead 3-2.
“We got back to our consistent effort, shift by shift, and we got a lot of chances,” McClement pointed out.
“Eventually we broke through.”
The Bruins answered back even quicker – 23 seconds later to be exact – when leading scorer Brad Marchand scored at 7:43 and tied the game up again, 3-3.
Boston continued to press to take the lead, but it was Ward who continued to hold court, making back-to back saves on Marchand with eight minutes remaining.
“That’s a little bit of desperation,” the Hurricanes netminder pointed out.
“I’ve got a little old school still left in me.”
At the other end, McIntyre did the same and both teams skated into the extra period to decide the final outcome.
“What you saw at the end is what we played with,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said.
“We shortened our bench and tried to go with guys that were really playing hard and doing a good job, and you know, it brought us to an overtime.”
That’s when Aho finalized the result at 1:34 into it when linemate Tuevo Teravianen slid a pass across to him in the high slot.
Aho’s wrist shot made it through traffic in front of McIntyre and bulged the twine for the winning marker.
“I missed a couple of opportunities in the first period,” Aho said.
“I’m glad I got some other chances and scored a few goals.”
Notes: Not to get superstitious, but with the exception of the Dec. 19th postponed game against Detroit at PNC Arena, Carolina has won every home game in which it’s worn its alternate black jerseys – a perfect 4-0 record…With his assist on Ryan’s goal, Staal recorded his third point in three games played against the Bruins this season…At the faceoff dot, Staal won 11-of-13 (85%) to help Carolina win 61 percent of all draws taken…After being acquired off waivers last Wednesday from St. Louis, forward Ty Rattie made his debut at PNC, finishing with two SOG, three hits and a takeaway in 13:26 TOI.