Cam Ward couldn’t have picked a better way to record his 200th NHL victory.
The Carolina Hurricanes goalie stopped 40 shots Thursday night to reach the milestone, shutting out the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory.
It was the 20th career shutout for Ward, tying Arturs Irbe for the most in a Hurricanes jersey. The 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner recorded his fourth shutout of the season.
”It means a lot to me,” Ward said. ”To win 200 games in this organization is something I’m proud of, but I don’t want to stop now. … We competed extremely hard. They’ve got a big, physical team and they’ve had a great season thus far.”
Chad LaRose scored his 15th goal and Jeff Skinner his 20th, both in the final 8 minutes.
”Cam was really strong tonight from start to finish and was really tracking the puck well,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. ”That was a nice milestone and a nice way to do it.”
Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots for St. Louis, which is 13-2-2 against the Eastern Conference. The Blues had won the teams’ other meeting this season, 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 21.
”We did a lot of good things,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. ”(But) when the game was on the line in the third period we didn’t manage the puck well, and that was the difference in the hockey game.”
St. Louis’ Andy McDonald left the game late in the second after falling and hitting his right shoulder on the boards in a collision with Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu.
The Blues outshot the Hurricanes 13-12 in a scoreless first period. The Hurricanes killed off a 4-minute power play beginning at 10:07 when LaRose was called for high sticking.
Elliott had a huge save 5 minutes into the second when he got a hand on a loose puck off his glove-side post to prevent Andreas Nodl from poking it in.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal was penalized for a total of 4 minutes with 19 seconds to go in the second for tripping and slashing.
The Blues got a big break with about 9 minutes left in the third as Tim Brent hit the left post on a breakaway.
LaRose then got the winner a minute later, circling the net and beating Elliott with Nodl assisting.
”It was definitely a grinding game and we were prepared for that,” LaRose said. ”We battled it out and our goaltender played great. I kind of got a good bounce and put it in the back of the net.”
Skinner added the clincher from the low slot on a breakaway with 2:38 to go.
NOTES: As of Thursday, the Hurricanes’ home building is called PNC Arena, after previously being known as the RBC Center. PNC Financial Services Group bought RBC Bank in June of 2011. … It was St. Louis’ first visit to Raleigh since a 5-2 win on Oct. 28, 2009. … Blues C Patrik Berglund played in his 300th NHL game, all with St. Louis. … Carolina’s Anthony Stewart and his brother Chris, both right wingers, played against each other for just the second time in their NHL careers. … Blues C Jason Arnott (undisclosed injury, day-to-day) was out while D Kris Russell (concussion-like symptoms) missed his 11th straight game. … Carolina F Jiri Tlusty (illness) missed his third straight game and D Jaroslav Spacek (lower body) his second.