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Gameday: Avalanche vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Back to work!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's game between the Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

As always, we'll be posted up rinkside at the Hurricanes morning skate (10:30 a.m. at PNC Arena) to bring you the latest.

Last updated: 4:35 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
4:35 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

Video: Tools to Victory: COL vs. CAR 


IN THE ROOM
2:45 p.m.

Go inside the locker room and hear from forwards Jordan Staal and Derek Ryan after today's morning skate.

Video: Jordan Staal: "We're excited to be back"

Video: Derek Ryan: "Shaking a bit of rust off"


LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
12:05 p.m.

Brett Pesce is a bit under the weather, according to head coach Bill Peters. Pesce did not participate in the team's morning skate and will be a game-time decision.

"I think he'll play, but we'll know after warm-up," Peters said.

If Pesce cannot play, Matt Tennyson will draw into the lineup and pair with Jaccob Slavin. Elsewhere on defense, Ron Hainsey is paired with Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin will skate alongside Klas Dahlbeck.

Here's more from Peters.

On the first game back from the bye week: "It's important to get everybody out there and everybody going again. I'd like to see a lot of 5-on-5 hockey early, to be honest with you, to get everybody involved in the game and build a game. The start is going to be important. [Colorado] played last night, and we haven't played in five days. The first 10 minutes are going to be huge."

On how the team has looked since returning from the bye week: "We've got to wait until we see some live ammunition here tonight. As you talk to everyone around the league, game two hits you hard, too. We'll see. We've got a young group, and they should be fine."

On the Avalanche's game in Buffalo last night: "It was good. I thought they were fine. Buffalo, I thought, was dialed in. It was a very competitive game, a close game, and we'll have our hands full here tonight. It's up to us to come out and play the right way."

Video: Bill Peters: "First ten minutes are going to be huge"


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
10:40 a.m.

Brett Pesce practiced on Thursday but was not at the Hurricanes morning skate on Thursday. Assuming he can play tonight, he'd be paired with Jaccob Slavin, as per usual. We'll confirm this and more with head coach Bill Peters shortly. Aside from that, here's what you can expect to see tonight.

Aho-Staal-Lindholm
McGinn-Rask-Ryan
Skinner-Teravainen-Stempniak
Nordstrom-McClement-Stalberg

Hainsey-Faulk
Slavin-Pesce/Tennyson
Hanifin-Dahlbeck

Ward
Lack


CANES RETURN FROM BYE WEEK TO FACE AVS
6:00 a.m.

The Carolina Hurricanes are back after a five-day rest period away from the rink, and the stretch run of the season is upon them.

The Hurricanes will play their final 29 games over a 52-day span, beginning tonight with a match-up against the Colorado Avalanche, who rank last in the NHL with 32 points in 55 games. Tonight's game is the Avs' last in a five-game trek along the Eastern seaboard (0-4-0) and the first in a five-game homestand for the Hurricanes.

"It's a huge segment," head coach Bill Peters said of the homestand coming off the bye week. "We're at home, and we've got to take advantage of that. We've got to play well and be prepared to play hard."

Teams are just 3-9-1 in their first games back from the bye week. The Hurricanes draw an Avalanche team that was shut out 2-0 in Buffalo on Thursday night.

"I know the records of teams coming off the bye week playing against teams in the rhythm of playing," Peters said. "I know what those records are. I know what some of those scores are. There's definitely some challenges."

The Hurricanes got back on the ice at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. Just a morning skate remains for the team to rediscover its legs in preparation for game action.

"I liked us today. It was the exact same skate we had coming out of the All-Star break. Get up and down the ice, good skate, lots of touches. I thought the guys were good," Peters said after practice. "We had to push and shove a little bit at the end, a little battle, a little contact so you're somewhat familiar with that again."

Carolina comes off the bye week sitting eight points out of a wild card playoff spot. But, because they were idle, they also have games in hand and an opportunity to gain ground in the standings during this homestand, where the Canes have won 17 of 24 games this season.

"You know what's going to happen when you take five days off: you're going to sink a little bit in the standings. Now what you have to do is make sure you win on a consistent basis and win your games in hand. That's what you have to do," Peters said. "We've got to play good and go on a run. We have to play our best hockey coming down the stretch here. There's 29 games left, and we've got to get into playoff battle mode sooner rather than later."

The Hurricanes dropped two straight games heading into the break and were outscored 10-2 in those contests. In search of more consistent offense, Teuvo Teravainen has shifted back into the middle with scoring wingers Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak around him.

"We've got to play our best hockey of the season now," Peters said.

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes have won each of the last six meetings against the Avalanche in Raleigh, dating back to Feb. 22, 2009. … Elias Lindholm leads the Canes with 22 assists this season, and the team is 13-3-0 in games when he tallies a helper.


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