LAS VEGAS — Through 13 NHL seasons, all with the Carolina Hurricanes, goaltender Cam Ward always harkens back to what his father mentioned to him when started playing: “The more fun you have, the better you do.”
He has the reminder written on his stick.
Ward had fun Tuesday when he notched his 300th career win, a 3-2 shootout victory over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
“You need your priorities in line to make that happen, and fortunately I’ve been able to do that,” said Ward, who finished with 22 saves Tuesday and is the 32nd goalie to reach 300 wins. “To reach that number of wins, there’s not too many guys who’ve done that, and I’m extremely proud of it. I couldn’t have done it without my supporting my cast — my family and my teammates.”
Carolina left winger Phil Di Giuseppe scored the decisive goal in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Hurricanes the win one night after they lost 3-2 at Anaheim. The result also snapped the Golden Knights’ four-game winning streak.
The Hurricanes (12-11-7) won the shootout 2-1 behind the goals of Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn. Reilly Smith scored in the shootout for Vegas (19-9-2).
“Full marks for being a quality goaltender here tonight. He’s had a quality career with no end in sight,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said of Ward. “Our guys did a good job of battling. We like playing. We have a young team, so I don’t think playing back-to-backs is a big issue. Our guys thrive off that challenge.”
Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored in regulation for the Hurricanes. Both were traded by Vegas to Carolina during the summer for draft picks. The goals were the first of the season — and first with the Hurricanes — for each player.
Deryk Engelland and Smith lit the lamp for the Golden Knights.
The game marked the return of Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who missed 25 games since Oct. 13 with a concussion. Fleury, a 14-year veteran, started and made 35 saves, including four stops during two Carolina power plays in the third period.
Peters admitted that Carolina knew of Fleury’s prolonged absence and tried “to get to him as much as we could with bodies.”
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said, “(Fleury) battled hard, played hard and gave us a chance.
“It’s too bad he couldn’t make that save at the end (against Di Giuseppe) because as bad as we played, it would have been a huge two points.”
Fleury and Ward defended their net well in the third period. Fleury had 15 saves in the period and Ward seven.
The Hurricanes struck first at 16:25 in the first period when an attempted clearance by Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb struck a forechecking Kruger’s stick. The puck ricocheted past an unsuspecting Fleury.
After Vegas tied the game with an Engelland wrist shot close to the blue line at 1:07 of the second period, van Riemsdyk picked up a loose puck and wristed it past Fleury. The goal at the 4:38 mark of the middle period gave Carolina a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Vegas defenseman Colin Miller’s stretch pass caught Smith in stride, and Smith beat Ward to tie the game at 2 at the 12:48 mark of the second period. The right winger has nine goals this season.
NOTES: Vegas D Luca Sbisa hit the end boards hard in the third period and had to exit the game to be examined. Sbisa later returned after the trainer tended to him. Last month, he was placed on injured reserve with a back injury. … Vegas activated Fleury from injured reserve and assigned G Maxime Lagace to Chicago of the AHL. Lagace started for Chicago on Tuesday night, three days after he earned the victory with a career-high 36 saves for the Golden Knights in a 5-3 win over Dallas. … Carolina C Victor Rask scored a goal in three consecutive games before Tuesday, matching his career-high streak set last season from March 24-27. He came close to scoring another Tuesday, but his shot hit off the right post with 3:54 left in the first period. … Vegas F William Carrier (upper-body injury), G Oscar Dansk (lower-body injury), F Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) and D Clayton Stoner (undisclosed) are on injured reserve.