It’s hard to call anything the true save of the year when the regular season isn’t over, but New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist had a surefire candidate with a ridiculous diving stick save on Ryan Johansen. Lundqvist has company now, though, because Wednesday night Cam Ward made a game-saving paddle stop that will leave your jaw hanging.
In a scoreless tie between the Hurricanes and Avalanche, Carolina’s Kris Versteeg blew a tire at the Colorado blueline which sent Jarome Iginla, Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen on a 3-on-1 against Hurricanes defenseman Michal Jordan. Following a slick drop pass by Iginla, Duchene made a great move on Jordan that forced Ward to drop into his butterfly and left an open net.
Duchene held onto the puck and slid into space to take a shot at the wide-open cage. The shot should have given the Avalanche a 1-0 lead and should have resulted in the game-winning goal. Instead, Ward dove to his right, stuck out his paddle and smacked away Duchene’s open-net attempt:
Making Ward’s spectacular stop even better is that it was one of 26 saves he had to make in order to shutout the Avalanche en route to a 1-0 Hurricanes overtime victory. Without Ward’s stop, the contest likely would have ended before Wednesday’s tilt got to 3-on-3 overtime and before Victor Rask could bury a pretty overtime-winner for Carolina.
The stop is huge for Ward, who came into the 2015-16 campaign needing to make a statement that he can still be a quality starting netminder in this league. He’s gotten five of the six possible starts for the Hurricanes, but has posted less than satisfactory numbers with a 2.62 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. But maybe Ward’s monster save can get him into a rhythm and keep him ahead of newcomer Eddie Lack for the starting gig in Carolina.