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Canes Fighting Through Minor Injuries

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
They’ve managed to avoid anything serious, but the Hurricanes’ training room has seen much more activity in recent weeks.

Paul Branecky
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After an unusually healthy start to the season, the Canes have continued to pick up a collection of minor injuries, with starting goaltender Cam Ward the latest to pick up an undisclosed concern. According to coach Paul Maurice, Justin Peters may get his second consecutive start in goal, following up on his 32-save victory in Florida on Friday.

“He might be a game-time,” said Maurice of Ward. “He’s not feeling 100 percent.”

At worst, Ward is healthy enough to serve as the backup goaltender even if he is unable to start.

It seems as though the only other potential change from Friday involves defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who has been out since Dec. 28 with an upper-body injury. According to Maurice, Pitkanen has been medically cleared to play but could be delayed by the arrival of his first child. As of Saturday morning, Pitkanen’s wife, Sini, had entered labor.

“He’s been cleared by everyone, but we would have liked him to skate today,” said Maurice, who will not hold a morning skate in advance of Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. start time against Atlanta at the RBC Center.

Of the team’s remaining injuries, Jussi Jokinen and Jiri Tlusty took part in a seven-player limited practice on Saturday, while Ryan Carter, who was injured during the team’s overtime loss at the New York Rangers on Wednesday, did not.

Jokinen was originally expected to return only a few days after his Dec. 28 lower-body injury, but should be nearing a return now.

“He’s still healing,” said Maurice. “It’s just not fast.”

The Thrashers are coming off a while 9-3 loss in Toronto that saw them switch goalies three times. Ondrej Pavelec allowed 5 goals on 24 shots, while Chris Mason allowed 4 goals on 10 shots.

Thrashers forward Ben Eager, who caused Tlusty’s upper-body injury in the team’s last meeting on Dec. 16, received a match penalty for an alleged sucker-punch on Toronto’s Colby Armstrong in the second period of that game. On Saturday morning, the NHL suspended Eager for four games, keeping him out of tomorrow’s contest.

In other possible suspension news as it relates to the Hurricanes, Tom Kostopoulos, who the team traded to Calgary in November, could be facing discipline from the league following a jaw-breaking hit on Detroit’s Brad Stuart. The Flames’ next game is in Carolina on Tuesday, which would make a one-game suspension enough to keep him out of the lineup.

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