Ward shines in goal as Hurricanes blank Thrashers

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) — A first-period surge helped
the Carolina Hurricanes continue to bounce back from a dismal

Cam Ward made 19 saves and Matt Cullen scored a goal and set up
another as the Hurricanes blanked the Atlanta Thrashers, 2-0, on
Saturday in battle of Southeast Division rivals.

The 24-year-old Ward turned aside four shots in both the first
and third periods, while stopping 11 shots in the second to
notch his third shutout of the season and ninth career.

“When you’re facing only 19 or 20 shots, that can be tough for a
goaltender,” Ward said. “But I felt sharp despite not getting
much work. We’ll take the win and hopefully have some more
success on the road.”

Ray Whitney also tallied in the first for the Hurricanes, who
have won four of their last five after suffering through a
season-high five-game losing streak.

“The puck’s going in,” Cullen said. “We’ve been on a lot of
stretches without it, so it’s nice to see it finally go in as
these games get bigger and bigger,” Cullen said.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 38 shots for the Thrashers, who dropped
their fourth straight contest.

“It’s the same thing that has happened the last three or four
games,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said. “We’ve talked about
getting ready. We’re so fragile. We have two bad shifts and
suddenly we’re down.

“We’re so worried about our own zone. We don’t chase pucks
down. We get hemmed in.”

Carolina outshot the Thrashers, 21-4, in the first period, when
Ward received all the support he would need.

“I thought our team played extremely well,” Ward said. “Right
from the drop of the puck, we were ready to go. It arguably
could be one of our best periods of the year. Those two goals
we got ended up prevailing.”

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Cullen opened the scoring 7:41 into the game after accepting a
feed from Chad LaRose and firing a wrist shot from the low slot
past Lehtonen.

Whitney doubled the lead with 91 seconds remaining in the
session, lifting a backhander into the vacant net from the

The Hurricanes held a 40-19 overall margin in shots and jumped
into the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff
picture with 55 points.

“We had great energy and jump,” said Carolina coach Paul
Maurice, who became the 14th coach in NHL history to have
coached 700 games with a franchise.

“We tried to do simple things as fast as we could. Then it was
the advantage of playing in Carolina. The crowd was great and
they know when you’re going. It was our most aggressive best
period since we’ve been here and (the Thrashers were) on their
heels. The fans really drove that game.”

Atlanta, meanwhile, has scored seven goals during its current
slide after totaling 15 in winning the previous three.

“It’s pretty disappointing we couldn’t get a great game, and we
had a pretty bad effort,” Thrashers center Bryan Little said.
“I’m getting tired of talking about the starts we’ve been

“Each game we say we have to have a good start, and each game we
don’t. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get back to
playing a full 60 minutes.”