Blackhawks' Ward ready for anticipated return to Carolina

November 12, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Cam Ward is back in Raleigh, but this time it's something different.

The veteran goalie is with the visiting team.

Ward will suit up for the Chicago Blackhawks for Monday night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

"I don't know what to expect," Ward said. "It will feel like I'm almost coming home for a short visit."

Ward played his first 13 NHL seasons with the Hurricanes prior to the offseason developments when he signed with the Blackhawks.

He figures to be mostly a backup this season to Corey Crawford. He didn't play last week against the Hurricanes in Chicago.

Ward said there's a long list of thank-yous to deliver when he considers his time with the Carolina organization. He said he's bound to be emotional for this game.

"I anticipate it to be strange and emotional at the same time," Ward said. "I'm very grateful for my time, my 13 years, that I was able to play in Carolina."

That included receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy as 2006 Stanley Cup Finals MVP, which resulted in the only championship for the Hurricanes.

"You win a Stanley Cup and you'll remember where you were when you hoisted it and it was on that ice," Ward said.

This is part of a trip with fathers of Blackhawks along for the action. So there will be other Ward family on hand.

Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour was the captain of the Hurricanes on the title-winning team that counted on Ward for so many big moments.

"He helped to get this organization on the right track," Brind'Amour said. "He was just a professional, all the way through the good and bad."

The Carolina organization is expected to have a tribute for Ward as part of Monday night's game.

Crawford was in the nets for Chicago's latest outing, so it reasons that the Blackhawks turn to Ward to try to shed a seven-game losing streak.

The Hurricanes are in a funk as well with a 1-4-2 mark in their last seven games. The visit from Chicago will mark the second contest in Carolina's six-game homestand.

The Hurricanes have outshot opponents in all except one game, but they continue to be frustrated with results. They took a 4-3 shootout loss Saturday night to visiting Detroit.

"That's what it always comes down to," Brind'Amour said converting on the scoring chances. "That's been our Achilles heel. It hasn't been other areas in our game, it's that we don't finish. That's hard. It will come with some of these guys because they're very, very talented."

The Hurricanes failed to protect a 3-1 third-period lead against the Red Wings.

"These are lessons that hurt," Brind'Amour said. "We're not quite there. Mistakes are going to happen, we just have to limit them."

The Blackhawks are still in their first week under new coach Jeremy Colliton, who replaced fired Joel Quenneville last week. They're 0-2-0 under Colliton, including a 4-3 home setback Thursday to Carolina and a 4-0 loss Saturday at Philadelphia.

Chicago left winger Brandon Saad has missed one game with an arm injury, but he hasn't been ruled out for Monday.

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