The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first win of this six-game road trip, which started off 0-2-2 and tormented Caniacs with close calls and sloppy performances.
Yes, the team was in desperate need ofa spark. Maybe this game is just that. But let’s talk about that later.
Right now, let’s talk about what made last night special.
In a season in which he lost his starting role to Scott Darling after eleven seasons as the unquestioned starter, Cam Ward earned his 300th NHL win in a game that gave him no easy breaks. Sure, his team helped stall the usually shot-heavy Vegas Golden Knights, but Ward was given many tough chances to stuff, survived a fast-paced overtime and held strong in the shootout.
Here’s a cool fact you may have heard already, but it’s worth repeating: Wardo began his winning ways with a shootout win against Pittsburgh on October 7, 2005. That first win was a long time ago against some players you’ve probably never heard of (Lemieux? Crosby? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
Then he did something even more incredible. After Martin Gerber, the Canes’ starter in 2005-2006, lost the the first game of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, then allowed three goals in 14:46 in the second game, Ward entered.
After that second-game loss, which was credited to Ward, he started winning, then kept winning. He won seven straight games. He dropped a few games, but won and won until the Hurricanes had won Stanley Cup, sitting out only one game after he entered in that second game of the playoffs .
In his rookie year.
He went from .882 in the regular season to .920 in the playoffs — the definition of clutch. Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy for Stanley Cup MVP with less than a season of NHL experience under his belt...or bulky pads, to stick to hockey.
Talk about a lot of pressure for the rest of his career. It’s hard to live up to that kind of reputation for any goalie. And despite the tough times he would face ahead performance-wise with the Hurricanes (e.g. literally this season), Ward has stuck with the franchise, ever loyal, now in his 13th season as a Carolina Hurricane.
Now we go to a quick commercial break, brought to you by Ward being a badass:
With one more win, Ward will jump into the top 30 on the all-time wins list despite many outside of Carolina paying him little to no mind except when their teams play the Hurricanes. He’s only the fifth active goalie to reach 300 wins, with no signs of slowing down and, in fact, making an argument to earn back his starting spot with the Hurricanes.
And lest you think that he was an also-ran in the locker room, a few of his teammates took to social media last night to salute their goaltender, including his compatriot in the crease:
Well deserved! unbelievable player even better person https://t.co/kM5loJ4vpS— Elias Lindholm (@lindholmelias) December 13, 2017
Sure, it was also historic that the Canes also won their first-ever game against Vegas and handed the Golden Knights their first shootout loss at home. WE’RE UNDEFEATED! WOOOO! TAKE THAT VEGAS TWITTER ACCOUNT! SCOREBOARD!
But the gloating and recognition of the Canes’ place in those history books is nothing compared to the one Ward just etched his name in.
Congrats, Wardo. This win’s for you. Now strap up and let’s get ready for the next win.
And in case you missed it, here’s what he had to say about the occasion. Enjoy.