Ward, Cole Help Hurricanes Blank Caps

The Associated Press
Thursday, November 9, 2006; 10:54 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- First, Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Then, he posted his first regular-season shutout. Carolina's star goalie seemingly is reaching his career goals in reverse order, and Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette doesn't seem to mind.

Ward stopped 20 shots and Erik Cole scored three goals to lead the Hurricanes to a 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

"Working backwards a little bit," Laviolette said. "But that's OK. We're happy with the order."

Eric Staal and Trevor Letowski also scored, and Scott Walker had two assists for Carolina.

Ward, the MVP of the Hurricanes' run to the Stanley Cup title last season, had two shutouts in the 2006 playoffs.

In the best regular-season performance of his career, Ward said he picked up momentum midway through the second period when the Hurricanes, leading 1-0, killed off Washington's two-man advantage, which lasted 2:18, and went on to a lopsided win.

"Up until that 5-on-3, I didn't see a whole lot of shots," Ward said. "It can really change the momentum of a game if you kill that off."

Cole kept the pressure on Capitals goalie Brent Johnson, recording his fourth career hat trick and first since an 8-2 win over Montreal on Jan. 31, 2006.

It also was his first multigoal game since March 4 against Pittsburgh, but that's a game Cole probably would rather forget. Later in that one, he was run over from behind by Brooks Orpik, breaking his neck in an injury that cost Cole three months.

"I felt like I was just racing up and down the ice" in the first period, Cole said. "As the game went on, I kind of slowed down a bit and tried to make more plays rather than sprint up the ice. Pucks were going in the net."

The Hurricanes scored on their first shot on goal when Walker burst down the right side on a 2-on-2 rush and passed to Cole, who tapped the puck past Johnson at 5:47 of the first period.

"We spotted them a goal we shouldn't have, and then we had to battle back," Washington forward Chris Clark said.

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