Cam Ward will be the starting goalie in the Canes’ last home game of the season against the Montreal Canadiens.
But will it be his last game at PNC Arena?
Ward is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. General manager Ron Francis has said there have been talks with Ward and agent Rick Curran, but questions about Ward’s future with the team that drafted him in 2002 remain unanswered.
Canes coach Bill Peters, asked abut Ward on Thursday, said he was outstanding in Boston on Tuesday in a 2-1 shootout win over the Bruins and “earned the right” to make the next start.
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“That’s all we’re going to worry about,” Peters said.
Charlie Lindgren, 22, is due to make his NHL debut Thursday and be the Habs’ starting goalie. Lindgren starred at St. Cloud State, signing a two-year, entry-level contract with the Canadiens on March 30.
-- Derek Ryan was recalled Thursday morning from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) and will be in the Canes’ lineup.
The lines should have Jordan Staal centering Joakim Nordstrom and Patrick Brown, Victor Rask at center with Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash, Elias Lindholm centering Chris Terry and Ryan, and Jay McClement with Nathan Gerbe and Brad Malone.
The defensive pairs at Thursday’s morning skate with Jaccob Slavin-Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin-Brett Pesce and Ron Hainsey-Ryan Murphy.
“We want to finish and play hard in front of our fans here tonight,” Peters said. “We want to continue to get a fair evaluation on (players). These games all have some meaning whether there are playoff implications or not. We want to finish properly.”
The Canes (35-29-16) have 86 points, the most for Carolina since finishing the 2010-11 season with 91 points. The Canes had 71 points last season.
-- Andrej Nestrasil was in the Canes’ locker room Thursday and said he’s feeling better. The forward suffered a fractured vertebra Feb. 25 against Toronto and was lost for the remainder of the season. Nestrasil said he was not sure in surgery would be needed and was hoping the injury would continue to heal. …
-- Jordan Staal was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for the first time, while Jeff Skinner won the Josef Vasicek Award for cooperation with the local media in voting by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
-- The Canes are 19-14-7 at home this season after starting 2-5-3 at PNC Arena. It’s Carolina’s most wins at home since 2011-12 (20) … The Canadiens (36-38-6) rre playing their last road game of the season and are 15-22-3 away from home this season.