Cam Ward needs help.
Remember when you were in college, and you really needed a good grade on that one group project, but while you were busting your ass at midnight trying to finish a PowerPoint, the other people in your group were watching cat videos? Congratulations, now you know what it feels like to be Cam Ward last night.
The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 at the PNC Arena, but not at the fault of Ward. He faced 36 shots and saved 34 of them — one Winnipeg goal was an empty-netter — and that doesn’t even speak to his brilliance on display. It seemed like three-fourths of the game was played right on Ward’s doorstep, but he kept the puck in play and gave the Canes a shot late in the third period.
“I felt good tonight. I thought I was moving well in the net,” Ward said. “The most important thing is to give your team an opportunity to win the game. We talked after the second period about winning one more period to get a point or a win, and, unfortunately, it just seemed today like things weren’t going our way.”
For as inspiring as Ward’s effort was, the rest of the team’s couldn’t have been any more different. The Canes’ lone goal came off the stick of Elias Lindholm during a power play at the beginning of the second period. Other legitimate scoring chances were few and far between. Carolina mustered just 23 shots all game, and the Jets were doubling Carolina’s attempts until the waning minutes of the contest.
Captain Eric Staal was moved to the wing for the game, and he responded with a game-high three giveaways against zero shots. Carolina lost the face-off battle (31-26), and when it did get the puck, the possessions didn’t last long.
Nineteen Hurricanes players took the ice Thursday, but only one of them turned in a winning effort.
“We usually have more energy than we had tonight. For whatever reason, we didn’t have a lot of energy and never really got going,” coach Bill Peters said. “We knew it was going to be one of those low-scoring games, but we’ve got to find a way to generate more quality chances and find a way to capitalize when we do.”
For Ward, he continued a stretch in which he’s playing as well as he ever has. He came into the contest with a five-game winning streak, and it should’ve grown to six. He’s on more of a roll than this guy.
The rest of the Canes, though, regressed to their October form, and they fittingly snapped a six-game point streak. Carolina has proved this month that it can compete like an actual NHL team, but now it needs to show that it can bounce back after a lousy night.
The Canes can’t afford to waste too many more efforts like this out of Ward. After all, a goalkeeper can only last so long before he, too, wants to watch cat GIFs.