Erik Cole’s late third period goal combined with the spectacular goaltending of Cam Ward helped the Hurricanes to a big 3-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta Sunday night. The victory concluded a clutch three point weekend against rivals for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Cole’s scored from 20 feet out with just 1:19 left in the third period It gave Carolina five straight wins over the Thrashers and put them two points ahead of Atlanta in the standings. The Hurricanes have played one fewer game than the Thrashers.
While Cole’s game winner garnered a lot of attention, the true star of the game was goalie Cam Ward. The Canes were outshot 43-17 in the game but Ward turned away 41 shots, allowing only a pair of goals by Andrew Ladd. Ward is showing no signs of slowing down despite making his 16th consecutive start.
“Cam has their number. But he has a lot of teams’ number. He’s the reason we’re where we are,” Cole said.
Jiri Tlusty and Joe Corvo also scored for Carolina with Corvo’s goal giving the Canes a 2-1 lead late in the second period. Ladd’s second score came on a breakaway in the opening minute of the third period to tie the game at 2-2. The desperate Thrashers controlled the game for most of the third period but did everything but put the puck past Ward.
Sunday’s win gave the Canes a three-point weekend as they lost 4-3 in overtime Saturday night to division leading Tampa Bay. The Canes were down 3-1 in that contest when they pulled Ward for an extra attacker. Rookie Jeff Skinner and Cole scored in the final minute of regulation time to earn a valuable point for the Hurricanes who lost in overtime on Marc-Andre Bergeron’s tally.
While the results this weekend were favorable, there has to be concern about the way the club is being outplayed. If it weren’t for the heroics of Ward, Carolina would not have been in either game this weekend. Not many teams will win consistently giving up 84 shots on goal in two games. Unless the Canes improve their overall team defense, their bid for the postseason will remain an uphill battle.
About the Author
Written by Brad Kurtzberg
Hockey writer for more than 10 years. Has been published on Fox Sports, MSG Network, Huffington Post and Inside Hockey. Wrote the book, "Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals, Hockey's Most Colorful Team" on the old California Golden Seals and is presently working on his second book.