Ward moved to make a save while sliding across the crease on his pads during the fourth minute of play and injured himself in doing so.
As a result, he skated off the ice and backup goalkeeper Justin Peters played the rest of the game, making 19 saves while giving up two goals.
“Peters came in and did a good job, you know, jumpin’ into that kind of a situation,” head coach Kirk Muller said.
Trailing 2-0 after the first period, Carolina’s Alexander Semin scored a power play goal at 6:01 of the second on a setup from captain Eric Staal and defenseman Andrej Sekera to bring the Hurricanes to within one goal.
With the Wild leading 2-1, the Hurricanes possessed two power play opportunities to tie the score during the first seven minutes of play in the third period, but could not convert on them, finishing 1-for-5 with the man-advantage on the night.
“The second (period) we took over,” Muller continued.
“We gave ourselves a great opportunity to go into the third period. To me, it came down to our power play. We didn’t come out in the third period and execute. We talked about it before – it was gonna’ have to be big here tonight – ‘cause they don’t give up much five-on-five. Guys are paid to produce and didn’t get the job done there in that time on the power play in the third.”
With Peters off the ice to add the extra attacker during the final minute of play, the Hurricanes were still unable to tie the score.
As a result of turning the puck over, Minnesota’s Dany Heatley took advantage of the opportunity and put the game out of reach scoring an empty-net goal to put the Wild ahead for good, 3-1 with 26 seconds to play.
With the extent of Ward’s injury determined to keep him out for 3-4 weeks, and with original backup Anton Khudobin still rehabbing his own lower-body injury, the Hurricanes will now place the starting responsibilities on Peters as they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
“This is his opportunity and he’s gotta’ find a way to get the job done,” Muller said of Peters.
“I know he was disappointed when he went down this year and he feels he’s a better goalie than last year, and he’s gonna’ get that chance right now. We’ve got a big game tomorrow against Colorado, go back against Pittsburgh. I’m sure he’s gonna’ be excited to show that he can play in the NHL.”
Video – Cam Ward injured against Minnesota Wild – NHL.com