RALEIGH — There's a chance Cam Ward could be back in goal for the Carolina Hurricanes this season.
General manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday that Ward, sidelined since Feb. 3 with a back injury, had his second appointment with a back specialist in Charlotte this week. Rutherford said surgery will not be required.
"We're real encouraged with the progress he's making," Rutherford said. "He has been feeling much better in the last week. We'll see where he is in the next week or two.
"When this first happened, we felt he may not play again this year. Based on how he feels now, the progress he's made, he could play in a few weeks. But we will not push it by any means."
Ward, 25, was bothered by back spasms in last year's Stanley Cup playoffs and again before this season. But he experienced more intense pain - Rutherford said the back problems were not related - during the Hurricanes' game Feb. 3 in Calgary.
Ward traveled with the team from Calgary to Buffalo, N.Y., but the injury worsened and he returned to Raleigh. He was sent to the specialist in Charlotte three days later for his first appointment, when a decision was made to allow Ward to rest for a few weeks and see how his back responded.
Manny Legace and Justin Peters split the goaltending in the five games Ward missed before the NHL break for the Winter Olympics. Legace won three times and Peters, in his first two NHL starts, won twice as the Canes went into the break with a season-best five-game winning streak.
"We'll keep the door open for Cam," Rutherford said. "We'll just wait and see how he feels, how comfortable he is."
The Hurricanes resume practice today at 2 p.m. at the RecZone and play their first post-Olympic game March 2 in Toronto.
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