Hurricanes end preseason with victory over Predators
Posted October 5, 2008
Updated October 6, 2008
Cam Ward made 31 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators in a 2-0 Carolina victory Sunday afternoon in Raleigh. Ray Whitney scored the winning goal seven minutes in to the third period and Eric Staal added an empty-netter to seal the win.
Sunday’s game marked the third consecutive preseason victory for Carolina, which started their exhibition slate with a record of 0-3. Ward’s performance was the second straight RBC Center shutout for the Canes, who got 21 saves from Michael Leighton in a 1-0 win over Philadelphia exactly one week ago.
”It’s a nice way to end the exhibition season, obviously,” said Ward. “Going into tonight’s game we wanted to leave on a winning note, and the guys worked extremely hard again. Nashville is a good test for us, and we showed we can play and hopefully everybody is in a good mood come October 10.”
“Wardo was great,” said captain Rod Brind’Amour, who made his preseason debut after rehabbing from knee surgery. “When you have great goaltending it makes everything look good. He was solid when he had to be, and I thought he was really good with his composure with the puck. He was playing the puck and giving our defensemen passes – something you haven’t seen him in the past do. He was doing that really well today.”
After letting up 13 goals in the first three losses of the preseason, the Canes tightened up in the end, allowing only two goals in their final three games while using Ward and Leighton equally.
“It’s a token to the guys in front of me, who played extremely well,” said Ward, the game's first star. “I thought the PK was very strong, we kept everything to the perimeter just like we’re trying to do.”
Whitney also played his first exhibition game after sitting out the previous five with a groin injury. He scored by corralling the rebound from a Patrick Eaves shot, skating around Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne and sliding the puck home for the eventual winner.
“I felt fine,” said Whitney afterwards. “It’s not like I was doing nothing for the last three weeks. I felt fine timing-wise, I felt a little tired halfway through the game and my legs felt a little bit heavy, but they came back in the third again. That’s the only thing you have a hard time judging - when you get back there the speed is certainly different.”
Staal, playing on a line with Whitney and Eaves, was finally rewarded for a good outing when his game-leading seventh shot on goal went in with four seconds remaining to seal the win for Carolina. Also reminiscent of the win against the Flyers two weeks ago, Staal had played a strong game despite not showing up on the score sheet to that point.
Brind’Amour skated just over 15 minutes of ice time, which was the limit Laviolette had set for him prior to the game as he continues to work his way back into game shape from his September 16 surgery. His coach and teammates thought he looked fine, but Brind’Amour holds himself to different standards.
“I felt horrible,” said Brind’Amour. “I knew I would. I always do even when I’m healthy coming in to the first game. I knew it was going to feel horrible, but that’s OK. That’s what I wanted to get out of my system and hopefully get better and better as we move along.”
The Canes get a day off Monday before resuming team practices on Tuesday. They’ll have close to a healthy lineup, as Tuomo Ruutu is expected to practice with the team for the first time since injuring his groin almost two weeks ago.