RALEIGH, N.C. – It wasn’t the result that goaltender Cam Ward wanted as the Carolina Hurricanes suffered a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena on Monday.
In reactivating Ward from the team’s injured reserve earlier in the day, the Hurricanes returned goaltender Mike Murphy to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate club, the Charlotte Checkers, accordingly.
The veteran netminder, who missed 10 games since suffering a groin muscle tear on Oct. 24 in a game against the Minnesota Wild, stopped 26 shots but didn’t have much time to ease into the game.
Boston took advantage of its first power play opportunity early in the first period and scored on the first shot that Ward faced at 2:31 – a redirected one-timer in close from Reilly Smith that was set up on a pass from Carl Soderberg.
The Bruins continued to keep their offensive pressure in and around Carolina’s net throughout the first 10 minutes of play and eventually extended their lead to 2-0 as Soderberg got a stick on a point shot from Dennis Seidenberg that beat Ward at the 10:24 mark.
The only offense the Hurricanes could generate was one goal from forward Tuomo Ruutu, his first of the season, with five seconds remaining in the first period that cut the Bruins lead down to 2-1.
“It wasn’t the best start,” Ward said.
“They came out jumpin’ in that first period and scored on their power play opportunity and had a good tip on the second goal. Getting that goal towards the end of the first period really gave us a boost and I thought in the second period we kinda’ started to play better, and unfortunately came up short in the end there.”
Both teams went scoreless during the second period as Ward and Bruins goaltender Tuuka Rask, who finished the game making 23 saves of his own, were kept busy at even strength and on the penalty kill.
Carolina was afforded a five-on-three opportunity at 13:52 when Boston’s Gregory Campbell was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass while teammate Johnny Boychuk was already in the box serving an earlier tripping penalty.
Sending out different power play groupings that couldn’t find their tempo in moving the puck with the man-advantage, and coupled with Rask making key saves on the close chances they did have in trying to beat him, the Hurricanes couldn’t get any closer to tying the score.
“They haven’t been together,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said of his new line combinations.
“We had injuries. I thought we might have had some guys back this morning. That didn’t happen and we had to put some combinations together that are not used to each other, but I thought they went out hard.”
The Hurricanes were afforded another power play opportunity early in the third period but couldn’t capitalize on that one either, but managed to continue to pepper Rask with 10 shots on goal.
However, at the 10:29 mark, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk put the game further out of reach as he unleashed a point shot that ended up in a half-open net that Ward was drawn away from as the result of bodies pulling him and his stick out of position.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen the replay,” Ward said.
“There was a collision in front of me and took me out of position and out of the net. I’m not sure exactly who it was, and on top of that I went to go back to the net and my stick was caught. Not sure where that was caught, but tough break.”
Trailing 3-1 as the final minutes of the period and game counted down, the Hurricanes pulled Ward for the extra skater, but Boston’s Milan Lucic scored an empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining to finalize the score and end result.
“I know that I gotta’ get my game back to where it needs to be,” Ward said.
“I’d rather look at the positives of tonight than the negatives. I hate losin’, but in the second and third period I felt a lot better with my game.”
As the Hurricanes finished playing their third game in four nights, Muller was happy with having Ward back in goal, but had more concern for the rest of his team getting healthier in order to play with enough bodies and energy to win games.
“We just didn’t have the extra juice to fight back,” Muller said.
“I thought the guys gave it heart, a hard-fought battle, but just not enough to get back into it.”