OTTAWA – Zach Boychuk scored his first two goals of the season, and Cam Ward made sure that was all the Carolina Hurricanes would need.
Ward made 37 saves to back Boychuk’s pair in the first period as the Hurricanes defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-0 Wednesday.
“We came out strong in the first period and our game-plan was to get shots to the net so we were throwing everything to it. We were lucky enough to get a few early to set us up for the rest of the game,” said Boychuk, who was playing in just his sixth game of the season since being recalled from the minors.
Ward made the first-period lead stand, especially in the third when he stopped 18 shots.
“He’s not bad. We’ll keep him,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “He has been that good and has played miraculous on some nights.”
Added Boychuk: “(Ward) has been great for us and in a lot of our wins he’s our best player. We need that and we’re happy to have him on our squad.”
Patrick Dwyer had a goal and an assist in the win and Erik Cole also scored for the Hurricanes (17-15-4), who pulled to within four points of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and two points clear of the tenth-place Senators (16-18-4).
“That’s half our road season done now and we’re two games over .500 on the road. We have 26 home games left and we play pretty good at home so this was an important win for our team,” Maurice said.
Dwyer scored the only goal of the third period and Cole the only one in the second after the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
The first period belonged to Boychuk who scored his first of the game on a wraparound at 9:54 and then beat Brian Elliott over the left shoulder at 13:12 with the Hurricanes on the power play.
The Hurricanes halted a three-game slide Tuesday with a 4-3 over the Maple Leafs in Toronto before making their way to Ottawa.
“Really pleased with our game. I wasn’t very excited about the overall game (in Toronto). It was just so sloppy but I tonight I thought we were pretty well organized,” Maurice said. “We gave up more (shots) in the third than we wanted to, but maybe a little fatigue had set in at that point from back-to-back nights.”
The Senators, meanwhile, needed a win not only to jump ahead of the Hurricanes, but also to maintain the momentum they were building with a pre-Christmas win in Minnesota and then a Boxing Day win at home over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“That was not a good enough effort to win a game, that’s for sure,” said Senators forward Mike Fisher.
“We didn’t bury it when we had opportunities and we gave up too many easy goals. They got out to that early lead and we didn’t respond. For whatever reason we’re not scoring goals and we need to. It’s as simple as that.”
Ottawa was playing the first of what is likely to be several games without forward Jason Spezza, who injured his shoulder in the Pittsburgh game when he was hit into the boards by Penguins defenceman Kris Letang.
Letang was given a minor penalty on the play but no further disciplinary action from the NHL, a decision criticized by Senators GM Bryan Murray on Tuesday.
The Senators are now 39-17-1 with Spezza out of the lineup over the past four seasons.
Notes: The Senators recalled goalie Mike Brodeur and forward Zack Smith Wednesday with goalie Pascal Leclaire still bothered by a lower body injury and Spezza out indefinitely.…Senators forward Alex Kovalev has just three goals and five assists in his last 20 games…The Hurricanes recalled forward Jon Matsumoto and defenceman Brian Rodney from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League for the game to replace forward Jussi Jokinen and defenceman Joni Pitkanen who sat out with lower and upper body injuries respectively.…Dwyer snapped a 15-game pointless streak with a goal and an assist Tuesday against Toronto.