The Florida Panthers lost goaltender Jose Theodore Saturday to a torn groin muscle. On Sunday, it was Carolina’s turn to get bad news in net. Goaltender Cam Ward, who left the game in the second period shortly after a collision with Justin Faulk, will miss six to eight weeks with a third-degree MCL sprain to his left knee.
Ward was initially hurt when Florida’s Jack Skille attempted to drive the net on Faulk, then lost his edge and both players slid toward the end boards. Faulk collided with Ward, and the Carolina goaltender was slow to get up. Ward was attended to by head athletic trainer Pete Friesen, but remained in the game until the next sequence when he attempted to save a Tyson Strachan shot that went wide and came up lame.
It would seem a best-case scenario for Ward (9-6-1, 2.84 GAA, .908 S%) would be a mid-April return, while an eight-week absence would take his recovery right to the end of the regular season. The one bit of good news is that the Hurricanes — for the first time in years — have a former No. 1 goalie as their backup.
Dan Ellis, who signed with Carolina prior to the season after an impressive run with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers during the lockout, will take the reins as the Hurricanes’ No. 1 goalie in Ward's absence. Ellis has been steady for the Canes this season, going 3-2 in five starts with a 2.53 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and a shutout. Ellis had been slated to start Sunday in Florida after Ward got the win against the Panthers the previous night, but was ill in the afternoon and the team went back to Ward after a relatively easy outing the night before. Justin Peters will likely be recalled from Charlotte to back up Ellis, while John Muse will carry the load for the Checkers.
Here's the release from the Hurricanes.
CAM WARD DIAGNOSED WITH THIRD-DEGREE MCL SPRAIN
No surgery required; netminder will miss 6-8 weeks
RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that goaltender Cam Ward has been diagnosed with a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Surgery will not be required for the injury, and he is expected to be out six to eight weeks.