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Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Avalanche

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Cam Ward earned his first shutout in nearly a year and Victor Rask scored the lone goal in 3-on-3 overtime to give Carolina a 1-0 win Wednesday at Colorado.

Cam Ward’s stop on Jarome Iginla’s breakaway chance in overtime kept the game scoreless, and Victor Rask answered shortly after, winning the game for Carolina.
Cam Ward’s stop on Jarome Iginla’s breakaway chance in overtime kept the game scoreless, and Victor Rask answered shortly after, winning the game for Carolina.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Ward posted a 26-save shutout, and Victor Rask scored in overtime to give Carolina a 1-0 win Wednesday at Colorado. The win improved the Hurricanes to 2-4 on the season.

Three Observations

1. It would have been easy for things to go off the rails early for the Hurricanes. After drawing a penalty just 76 seconds into the game, Carolina’s man advantage was quickly erased after Ryan Murphy took a slashing call 32 seconds into the power play. That left nearly a minute and a half of 4-on-4 time, and after a shift by Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg, Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey, coach Bill Peters turned to Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin and John-Michael Liles. It nearly backfired. Carolina was hemmed in their own zone and was stuck killing the balance of Murphy’s penalty with two players, Hanifin and Skinner, who had a combined 30 seconds (all by Hanifin) of penalty kill time this season. But the Canes, despite icing the puck once in the sequence, held up for nearly 90 seconds, keeping the Avalanche off the board and avoiding digging an early hole.

2. It was an eventful night for Liles. The former Avalanche defenseman was returning to face the team that drafted him and where he spent seven of his 12 NHL seasons — and he had some ups and downs Wednesday. The good? Liles had perhaps his best defensive game as a Hurricane, leading all players with five blocked shots and helping Ward earn a shutout despite spending a lot of time in his own end. The scary part came in the second period when Colorado forward Jarome Iginla lost his balance and kicked Liles in the face. Liles was cut, but it could have been much worse, and the 34-year-old defenseman returned for the third period to help preserve the shutout and get Carolina two points.

3. With Riley Nash close to returning to the lineup, one wonders who will be the odd man out if Nash is ready to play Friday. A good bet is Chris Terry, who has dropped to the fourth line and is not seeing power play time despite the Hurricanes’ struggles with the man advantage. Brock McGinn hasn't followed up his first-shift goal at Detroit with any more tallies, but he has been physical — which will be important against the Kings (see below).

Number To Know

0 — Major penalties on the Canes through six games this season. They are one of six teams (Detroit, Minnesota, Toronto, Washington and Winnipeg are the others) without a major this year. The Los Angeles Kings, Carolina’s opponent Friday, are tied with Vancouver for the league’s most with five. The Hurricanes also rank last in the NHL in hits through Wednesday’s win with just 87.

Plus

Cam Ward — Ward was fantastic in earning his first shutout since Nov. 1, 2004, making a stop that is an early season save-of-the-year candidate, stuffing Iginla on an overtime breakaway, and simply willing Carolina to its first ever win in Colorado.

Minus

Michal Jordan — Jordan was bailed out several times by Liles and Ward Wednesday, and while it's tough to fault anyone — especially a defensive player — in a 1-0 win, Jordan’s performance left something to be desired. Jordan was also guilty of a holding infraction in the penalty-riddled first period.

News

The Hurricanes reassigned defenseman Rasmus Rissanen to Charlotte of the AHL following the game. With only six blueliners on the roster and back-to-back games in L.A. and San Jose Friday and Saturday, respectively, Carolina will likely recall a defender in case of injury. Here is the release from the team.

HURRICANES REASSIGN RISSANEN TO CHARLOTTE
Defenseman was recalled to Carolina on Tuesday

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned defenseman Rasmus Rissanen to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Rissanen was recalled to the Hurricanes on Tuesday, but did not play in the team’s 1-0 overtime win at Colorado on Wednesday. He will join the Checkers in Grand Rapids, MI, in advance of their game against the Griffins on Friday.