RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward played in his 500th NHL game, all with Carolina, and made 23 saves in the winning effort.
“I’m thankful to play this many games in this league,” Ward said.
“And being with this organization and thankful for all the help that I’ve been getting along the way.”
Justin Faulk, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, and Jay McClement all scored in support of Ward’s 16th win of the season and fourth in his last five starts.
Philadelphia’s lone goal came from defenseman Nicklas Grossman, while starting netminder Rob Zepp, a fourth round (110th overall) draft pick of the Hurricanes in 2001, made 31 saves in the losing effort.
Faulk scored his 11th goal of the season on the power play to give the Hurricanes an early 1-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period.
Elias Lindholm worked the puck along the side boards before sliding the puck into the high slot towards Eric Staal who managed to get it as it deflected off Flyers forward Matt Read’s skate and over to Faulk.
The defenseman’s slap shot beat Zepp as he slid across his crease in an unsuccessful attempt to make the save.
Possessing the puck for much of the period, Carolina tested Zepp early and often while outshooting the Flyers 15-9.
Defenseman Nicklas Grossman eventually evened the score for Philadelphia on a point shot with 2:14 remaining in the period.
The Flyers’ lone goal of the game resulted on a play set up by Jakub Voracek and Matt Read who earned assists on the even-strength goal.
Carolina regained the lead on Skinner’s goal at 2:16 of the second period – the eventual game-winner.
After defenseman Brett Bellemore chipped the puck towards the Flyers blue line, Alexander Semin carried it into the right corner and slid a fast pass through the low slot while taking a check from Zac Rinaldo.
Skinner finished the play, scoring his 15th goal of the season, with a snap shot that beat Zepp low to his blocker side and put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1.
“Heck of a pass to get it through there; I just tried to put it in,” Skinner said.
“Gettin’ Alex the puck with some time in the offensive zone, he draws people to him, and he makes some great plays like you saw tonight.”
Philadelphia couldn’t beat Ward on the power play during the period as the netminder made numerous saves including back-to-back stops on Claude Giroux and Pierre-Andre Bellemare with five minutes remaining.
Jordan Staal scored his fourth of the season after Zepp made saves on Semin’s rebound attempt following a Faulk point shot.
The goal, the Hurricanes’ second on the power play for the game, gave them a 3-1 lead with 4:05 to go before the second intermission.
The third period showcased some of the best play from both teams and their goaltenders, particularly during the midpoint of the period when Ward, then Zepp made multiple saves while Carolina maintained its two-goal lead.
McClement scored the final goal of the game with 5:23 remaining.
The centerman’s fourth goal of the season came on a tight forecheck that turned the puck over behind the Flyers net where linemate Brad Malone picked it up and fed McClement to finish the play with a one-timed wrist shot over Zepp’s left shoulder.
Alternating wins in their last six games now, Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters wanted his team to come out fresh and to play with energy.
They took a day off following a 3-1 road loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
“There were too many signs of bein’ tired,” Peter said.
“Just not mentally sharp at times and not the type of energy our group usually has.”
Playing with a purpose, Carolina didn’t let its starting goalie down, and helped him reach the milestone with a win.
“I think the guys wanted to make sure it was a memorable night,” Peters said.
“Five-hundred and you look at the group he’s with – Lundqvist, it’s Miller, it’s Fleury, it’s Ward. You look at it, there’s Stanley Cup winners, there’s Conn Smythe winners, there’s Olympians. He’s in tall cotton there. Then you look at his numbers from the end of November until now – I wrote it down, I had to – it’s 2.19. He’s been real good here for a long time. He’s a good goaltender. He’s an elite in my opinion.”
The team announced that it and the NHL would recognize the goaltender for reaching the milestone during a pregame ceremony before the team’s next home game on Friday against Washington.
Notes: Ward became the fourth active goaltender to appear in 500 games with one team (Henrik Lundqvist – 613, NYR; Marc-Andre Fleury – 578, PIT; Ryan Miller – 540, BUF). He ranks first in franchise history in games played (500), wins (240), and shutouts (22)…Semin’s two assists helped him reach the 100th point plateau with Carolina…Brad Malone also reached a milestone, playing in his 100th career NHL game. The forward has nine points (4g, 5a) in 45 games played with Carolina this season…The Hurricanes entered the game ranked first in the NHL with an 87.8 percent penalty-killing percentage. They went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill on the night against the Flyers.