SAN JOSE, Calif. – It took Cam Ward six years before he played his first game in San Jose. He made the most of it.
Eric Staal scored a short-handed goal and Ward made 41 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes get their first win on American soil, beating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 Tuesday night.
“Yeah, my first game in this building and I was excited for the opportunity,” Ward said. “The guys really had it going from the drop. Our penalty-kill was great. Any time you can kill off three penalties in the first 10 minutes and add a goal to boot, you’re doing pretty good.”
Erik Cole, Patrick Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Joni Pitkanen also scored for the Hurricanes, who ended a two-game slide and won for the first time since sweeping the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland.
“We did things a lot better than our last time out,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “We kept the puck moving forward and when we did have a breakdown we got great goaltending.”
Patrick Marleau scored twice for the Sharks, who have yet to win a home game. Antti Niemi made 26 stops, but has allowed nine goals over his past two games.
“One period is not going to win you many games,” Marleau said. “We needed to follow that up with another goal or two. We have to sharpen some things up and get our focus back.”
Staal scored Carolina’s first short-handed goal of the season six minutes into the game. The Sharks allowed a short-handed goal for the second consecutive game.
“We caught them on a break and went hard to the net,” Staal said. “Chad held the goalie a bit and I usually make those shots.”
The Hurricanes, still a week away from playing their first home game, scored the first three goals.
Following Staal’s early goal at 5:56, Cole scored on a rebound for his first of the season at 17:35 of the first.
LaRose picked off a pass early in the second period to set up Dwyer’s goal, making it 3-0.
Marleau redirected Dan Boyle’s shot for a goal at 6:34 of the second period and followed that three minutes later as he managed to squeeze the puck between Ward and the near post.
Staal stole the puck from Doug Murray in the far corner and flipped across the net for an easy score for LaRose to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead at 2:11 of the third period.
“It was one of those quick plays in the corner,” Staal said. “I don’t think Murray realized I was that close. I used my reach to my advantage. It was a big goal to go up by two.”
Maurice said it was the game’s turning point.
“Absolutely the biggest goal,” he said.
Pitkanen scored his first of the season at 7:05 of the third to cap the scoring.
“Every goal they scored we had a stick on for a little bit,” Sharks’ Joe Thornton said. “We gave it up and it ended in the back of the net. We’re giving away too many pucks right now. We have to find our game in a hurry.”
Notes: Staal needs one goal to match Geoff Sanderson (196) for fifth in franchise history. … Thornton recorded an assist and has at least a point in each of his first four games.