Cam Ward was being asked about the Carolina Hurricanes beating the Boston Bruins in overtime, again, and about a gaggle of super saves the veteran goalie made Sunday.
As he glanced across the locker room, there was Sebastian Aho, 19. The rookie forward scored twice in the Canes’ 4-3 victory. More importantly, Aho’s second came in overtime, giving the Canes a gritty win in the first game of an important four-game homestand at PNC Arena.
“He’s just showing a lot of confidence, a lot of poise,” Ward said. “For his age, that’s very impressive.”
Aho scored the Canes’ first goal in the second period, going to the front of the net as defenseman Jaccob Slavin winged a shot from the point and getting a piece of the puck. Bruins coach Claude Julien challenged the score, claiming goaltender interference, but Aho’s goal was upheld on review.
On Aho’s second one, the winner, there was no doubt.
Teuvo Teravainen won a fight for the puck along the boards with the Bruins’ David Krejci, then found Aho in the right circle. Aho, using Boston defenseman John-Michael Liles as a screen, unleashed a shot that goalie Zane McIntyre could not track at 1:34 of overtime.
“Great pass from Teuvo, I just tried to shoot to the goal and it went in today,” Aho said, making it sound simple.
When the two teams last played, on Dec. 23 at PNC Arena, it was Teravainen with the overtime winner. This time, Aho. Two big goals for the two Finns.
In a 4-3 game, both goalies played well. Ward’s 32 saves for the Canes (18-15-7) included some of his best of the season, and McIntyre, in his third NHL start, had some high-quality stops among his 26 saves.
Ward’s lunging kick save in the second period, robbing former Canes forward Riley Nash of a goal, was as spectacular as it was a bit old-school.
“A little bit of desperation,” Ward said, smiling.
In the third, with the Bruins pressuring, scoring twice and looking for more, Ward stopped Brad Marchand on back-to-back shots.
“We didn’t show any panic, held the fort,” Ward said.
The Bruins (21-17-5) had the first chance in the overtime, but Ward stopped a Patrice Bergeron shot, and Aho, who now has 10 goals, soon had the winner.
The third period became a shootout, the kind that entertains fans, ages coaches and leave the players exhausted.
After a lackluster first period, the Canes got goals from Aho and then Derek Ryan, off the rush, to take a 2-1 lead after the second. David Backes then scored for the Bruins to tie the score 2-2 in the third, only to have center Jay McClement give the Canes the lead less than two minutes later with his second goal in the past three games.
That lead lasted 23 seconds, as Marchand whipped in a shot from the left circle for a 3-3 tie at 7:43 of the period.
McIntyre was recalled Friday by the Bruins from Providence of the AHL, where he was the goaltender of the month in December. McIntyre denied Aho in the first period and made big stops in the second on consecutive shorthanded breakaways by Jordan Staal.
The Bruins won a road game Saturday, beating the Florida Panthers 4-0. Tuukka Rask turned in a 25-save shutout, but Julien went with McIntyre.
Ward made his 16th straight start, his longest streak since 2011, in improving to 15-12-6 this season.
“There was a lot of puck pressure by both teams,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “Both goaltenders made big saves. ‘Wardo’ battled in there.”
A crowd of 11,820 came out on a bad-weather weekend, hoping to see a good game. The Canes and Bruins didn’t disappoint.
“We’ve got to keep piling up points, especially at home,” McClement said.