Matt Duchene (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Cam Ward has had his share of struggles early this season, but the 31-year-old Carolina Hurricanes netminder made an insane diving stick save on Colorado’s Matt Duchene Wednesday night that should find itself among the best of the year when the season is over. Ward’s stop preserved his shutout and allowed the Hurricanes to win 1-0 in overtime.
It’s hard to call anything the true save of the year when the regular season isn’t over, but New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist had a surefire candidate with a ridiculous diving stick save on Ryan Johansen. Lundqvist has company now, though, because Wednesday night Cam Ward made a game-saving paddle stop that will leave your jaw hanging.
In a scoreless tie between the Hurricanes and Avalanche, Carolina’s Kris Versteeg blew a tire at the Colorado blueline which sent Jarome Iginla, Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen on a 3-on-1 against Hurricanes defenseman Michal Jordan. Following a slick drop pass by Iginla, Duchene made a great move on Jordan that forced Ward to drop into his butterfly and left an open net.
Duchene held onto the puck and slid into space to take a shot at the wide-open cage. The shot should have given the Avalanche a 1-0 lead and should have resulted in the game-winning goal. Instead, Ward dove to his right, stuck out his paddle and smacked away Duchene’s open-net attempt:
Making Ward’s spectacular stop even better is that it was one of 26 saves he had to make in order to shutout the Avalanche en route to a 1-0 Hurricanes overtime victory. Without Ward’s stop, the contest likely would have ended before Wednesday’s tilt got to 3-on-3 overtime and before Victor Rask could bury a pretty overtime-winner for Carolina.
The stop is huge for Ward, who came into the 2015-16 campaign needing to make a statement that he can still be a quality starting netminder in this league. He’s gotten five of the six possible starts for the Hurricanes, but has posted less than satisfactory numbers with a 2.62 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. But maybe Ward’s monster save can get him into a rhythm and keep him ahead of newcomer Eddie Lack for the starting gig in Carolina.