Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford doesn't hedge any in assessing the play of goaltender Cam Ward this season.

"He has singlehandedly won us games and singlehandedly kept us in many games," Rutherford said. "He's our MVP for the year."

That comes from a former NHL goalie, from a man who has an appreciation of the position and its demands. And the fact the Hurricanes (34-29-10) go into tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning three points out of playoff position is a testament to Ward's savvy and effectiveness, Rutherford said.