After closing out a lengthy road trip with a pair of strong defensive efforts, the Carolina Hurricanes open a homestand against a team that’s had trouble scoring goals of late.
The Hurricanes aim for a third consecutive win and season sweep of the Colorado Avalanche as they begin a four-game stretch in Raleigh on Friday.
After Cam Ward made 25 saves in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Detroit, Carolina (4-6-0) held the New York Islanders to 19 shots in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime triumph that concluded a 4-3-0 trip. It’s the Hurricanes’ first win streak of the season and followed losses in Los Angeles and San Jose by a combined 8-2 score.
"I was more than pleased with the trip and now we just have to make an effort as a group of 23 guys to do it each and every day," coach Bill Peters told the NHL’s official website.
Ward also was in top form in Carolina’s Oct. 21 visit to Denver, turning aside 26 shots before Victor Rask scored 1:49 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 win.
The Hurricanes are 0-2-0 at PNC Arena but have won five straight against Colorado (3-5-1) in Raleigh, where the Avs last won Jan. 12, 2008.
Colorado has scored just seven goals during that skid and has the same amount over a current five-game stretch, losing the first four before Semyon Varlamov’s season-high 34 saves made the difference in Thursday’s 2-1 win at Tampa Bay.
The win was Varlamov’s 108th with the Avalanche, trailing only coach Patrick Roy for the most in franchise history, and earned the previously struggling goaltender a second straight start.
”He seemed really under control,” Roy said. ”He had a strong night from the start to the end. He made some great saves.”
Varlamov entered the game with a 3.93 goals-against average through five starts and had lost his last three, including an 18-save effort against Carolina. He does own a 2.04 GAA in nine career meetings with the Hurricanes and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of the last eight.
Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay supported Varlamov’s latest outing with a goal and an assist each, but the Avs went 0 for 6 on the power play after failing to convert five chances in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Florida. Colorado is 2 for 29 with the man advantage over its last six games after connecting on 5 of 10 opportunities through the first three.
"We’ll take the two points; it’s two points we desperately need right now," Tanguay said. "We have to continue to play with that same urgency. We have to want the puck and want to make plays with it and hopefully bounces will come our way."
The Avalanche have been struggling on the penalty kill as well, having yielded five goals over the last three games when short-handed. The Hurricanes, however, are 1 for 21 on the power play over their last six.
Carolina did get two clutch even-strength goals against the Islanders, with Chris Terry forging a 2-all tie with 5:04 remaining in regulation and Ron Hainsey recording the winner midway through overtime. Jordan Staal assisted on both after being held without a point in the first nine games.