This is the way it’s supposed to look when the Carolina Hurricanes are playing well and winning.
Goalie Cam Ward making the tough saves, staying composed and confident in net.
The Canes maintaining puck possession, moving it sharply out of the defensive zone and keeping it in the offensive zone with strong shifts.
And in tight games, of which there are many in the NHL, someone stepping up to score the big goal, make a difference.
The Hurricanes did that Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks in a 1-0 victory at PNC Arena, getting the goal from Joakim Nordstrom in the third period and a 22-save shutout from Ward to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Canes (5-6-4) were in control from start to finish Saturday in beating the Washington Capitals 5-1. Then in came the Sharks, who had won three straight on the road.
“It’s huge,” Ward said. “You’ve got to build some momentum and certainly these last two games have been our best two games of the year. We did it in a real good fashion, playing really the way we wanted to play, and dominated at times.
“That’s a compliment to the guys because those are two very tough teams. It’s not going to get any easier, but we showed what we can do when we're on, for sure.”
Ward, earning his first shutout of the season and 24th of his career, said it was a night when he had a “quiet mind” in net.
“Less thinking is sometimes better,” Ward said. “Tonight I just felt real comfortable with where I was at, despite not facing a whole lot of shots or whole lot of work.”
Ward faced just two shots in the second period. He was tested more in the third, forced to make a number of stops on wicked tips and redirections, and then late in regulation when the Sharks pulled goalie Aaron Dell — the backup finished with 32 saves — for an extra attacker.
Nordstrom’s goal, his first of the season, came at 10:48 of the third period as the Canes’ fourth line provided the score.
After some strong backchecking by the Canes’ Viktor Stalberg on Joonas Donskoi in the Sharks zone, Stalberg carried the puck up the right wing with center Jay McClement driving the middle. Nordstrom got off a shot, collected a loose puck and backhanded a shot past Dell.
“When you haven’t scored for a long period of time you start having some negative thoughts about yourself,” Nordstrom said. “So it was a nice relief seeing that puck go in.”
The fourth line wasn’t through. It gave the Canes a hustling shift late in the period, helping protect the lead.
Nothing could match a shift by the Jordan Staal line in the first for Carolina. Staal, wingers Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho kept the puck for two minutes and 13 seconds, and Teravainen had five shots.
“Great job by them, setting the tone for us,” Canes coach Bill Peters said.
There wasn’t much open space for either team. The Canes’ Jeff Skinner was bottled up much of the night, and the Canes kept the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, Joel Ward, Logan Couture and defenseman Brent Burns — he of the big beard and big shot — contained.
"They're tight on you, they're pressed up, they skate well," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of the Canes.
The Canes were dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 34 of 49 draws. In a one-goal game, that’s even more important.
The Canes had defenseman Justin Faulk back in the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Faulk was activated off injured reserve Tuesday, and all three defensive pairs were effective, keeping good gaps.
And Ward was Ward.
“He’s been really good for us,” Nordstrom said. “It’s really fun to watch him every night. You feel confident that even if you make a mistake, you have him to bail you out. He’s definitely been big for our team.”, winning 3-2. He relieved Martin Jones on Nov. 5 in Pittsburgh, allowing two goals on 18 shots as the Penguins won 5-0.