Canes Now

Ward gets start against Caps

The Canes' first win in December was a solid 4-1 road victory over the Washington Capitals, with Justin Peters in net.

The two Metropolitan Division teams go at again Friday at PNC Arena, but Cam Ward will be the Canes’ starting goaltender.

Why the change?

"Just going on a gut feeling," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. "Talked to Cam last week and said he's had a good five days to really focus on his game. He's a leader of this group. It's a big game.

"A lot of times you look at your veteran guys to have big games. We're showing we have confidence in him and giving him the opportunity to start tonight."

Peters has a career 4-3 record and 1.67 goals-against average versus the Caps, with two shutouts in the seven games. He had 26 saves in the Dec. 3 win in Washington.

Ward has not started since Dec. 10, when he was the loser in a 5-4 overtime loss in Edmonton. Peters started three of the four games on the Western road trip that ended Saturday with a 3-1 win in Phoenix.

-- Defenseman Brett Bellemore will play his first game since suffering a concussion against the Caps in the Dec. 3 game at the Verizon Center. Bellemore said the Caps' Tom Wilson hit him in the chin with his shoulder -- a jarring blindside hit.

"I didn't see him coming at all," Bellemore said. "It was a little bit of whiplash."

Wilson dodged an NHL suspension this week for his hit-from-behind on Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers. Wilson had a hearing Thursday with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Bellemore, who has missed six games, said he would not be out for any personal retribution against Wilson and would simply concentrate on getting the Canes another win over the Caps.

"The priority is getting two points tonight," Bellemore said. "I'm not really thinking about (Wilson) too much, just going out there and play. It's a hockey play. It happened. He's a big guy and he can hit. I don't hold any grudges or anything."

-- The Canes held a morning skate Friday and Bellemore was paired with Ron Hainsey. Justin Faulk was with Andrej Sekera -- whom Muller said has been the team MVP thus far this season -- and Jay Harrison with Tim Gleason. Mike Komisarek, who was activated off injured reserve Friday, and Ryan Murphy should be healthy scratches.

The lines had Eric Staal centering Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu; Jordan Staal centering Nathan Gerbe and Alex Semin; Riley Nash at center with Jiri Tlusty and Pat Dwyer, and Manny Malhotra centering Drayson Bowman and Radek Dvorak. Kevin Westgarth is the extra forward.

Rookie forward Elias Lindholm left Friday to join the Swedish national junior team for the World Junior Championship.

-- Philipp Grubauer will start in net for the Caps. Grubauer is 3-0-1 with a 2.06 GAA and .937 save percentage. He had 24 saves Dec. 15 in beating the Flyers.