RALEIGH, N.C. – Here’s a scene that would strike fear in just about any goalie: Jonathan Toews flying down the ice on a breakaway.
Cam Ward stopped him—and everything else for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ward made 30 saves in his first shutout of the season and Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on Friday night.
“For either team to win, your goalie’s got to make one of those saves,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “Maybe the best in the world at being in alone, and when that happens, you can almost feel it on the bench. It’s not just a save. He’s clearly right on his game.”
Tim Brent scored on a deflection and Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty added third-period goals for the Hurricanes, who claimed their first win since Oct. 18 at Boston.
Corey Crawford stopped 30 shots for the Blackhawks, who were beaten in regulation for the first time since opening night. They entered with a two-point lead in the Central Division but were shut out for the first time this season and remained winless at the RBC Center, which opened in 1999.
“We got dominated in all areas of the game. We weren’t very good tonight,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They were a more determined team, and it was clear from the outset. … I didn’t like how we played.”
Carolina entered in fourth place in the Southeast Division, five points behind Washington, and is hoping to make some progress in the standings during a stretch in which they play nine of 14 games at home.
“We really wanted to right the ship tonight and play a very solid 60 minutes and get things going,” Ward said. “Once again, we showed the way that we are capable of playing. It’s a matter of doing that on a consistent basis.”
Ward earned his first shutout since he blanked Detroit last April and the 17th of his career, improving to 3-0-1 against the Blackhawks. Perhaps his most impressive save came when he stopped the 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner’s breakaway chance in the second.
“In that type of game, you need good goaltending. … That was the difference,” Carolina forward Jeff Skinner said.
The Hurricanes gave him all the offence he’d need just more than three minutes in, when Brent was credited with his second goal with Carolina. He won a draw to send the puck behind the circle to Tim Gleason, who unloaded a slap shot from near the boards that clipped Brent’s stick on its way past Crawford.
Eric Staal could’ve put the Hurricanes up by two late in the second when he was awarded a penalty shot after he stole the puck from Brent Seabrook near the blue-line and was hooked by the Chicago defenceman as he skated in on Crawford. The Carolina captain went back and forth with the puck in front of Crawford before the goalie stuffed his quick attempt to his stick side.
“He was great,” Quenneville said of Crawford. “He kept us in a 1-0 game. We were right there.”
Sutter put Carolina up 2-0 roughly 5 1/2 minutes into the third—and six seconds after the expiration of his two-minute penalty for tripping Patrick Sharp. Sutter shot out of the penalty box and down the ice, took a long pass from Jussi Jokinen and snapped the puck past Crawford for his third goal.
“Usually when you step out, the last thing you’re expecting is a chance like that,” Sutter said. “You’re kind of thinking you can get off the ice. … I saw the (defenceman) coming, I just managed to chip it over him and then I knew I had a step on him.”
Tlusty then made it a three-goal game when he scored from point-blank range with 4:53 left.
NOTES: The Hurricanes received a scare late in the first when Staal left early after taking a stick in the face from Chicago LW Daniel Carcillo. Staal spent the last 5 minutes of the period in the dressing room but returned to the ice early in the second. … Carolina D Tomas Kaberle rang the post midway through the third. … This was the only regular-season meeting between the teams.