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Avs start trip with visit to Carolina

by Deborah Francisco /

AVALANCHE (13-9-2) AT HURRICANES (24-10-11)

TV -- ALTITUDE-2 (HD); FS-Carolinas (HD)

Last 10 -- Colorado 6-3-1; Carolina 3-4-3

Season series - This is the only meeting between Carolina and Colorado this season. They split a pair of games last season, with both teams winning at home. Paul Stastny scored twice to lift the Avalanche to a 5-4 win on Oct. 23, 2009, at the Pepsi Center and Ray Whitney led Carolina to a 2-1 victory with a pair of goals on Jan. 8.

Big story -- The streaky Hurricanes will face a revamped Avalanche team as Colorado acquired two new players via trades this week and hope to have to more (Adam Foote and Craig Anderson) return from injury -- perhaps as soon as tonight. Defenseman Matt Hunwick debuted on Tuesday, and center Tomas Fleischmann participated in practice on Thursday. While Carolina has struggled to string together back-to-back wins, Colorado is just one point out of the Northwest Division lead as it begins a five-game swing through the entire Southeast Division.

Team Scope:

Avalanche - After a four-game winning streak in mid-November, Colorado has dropped three of its past four contests, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday. Ironically, the game-winning goal was scored by Atlanta's Anthony Stewart, the older brother of Colorado's Chris Stewart who is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.

Colorado battled back from a one-goal deficit and took the lead in the third period, but Atlanta tied the game when Dustin Byfuglien blasted home a shot after David Jones made a block.

"We played a really good third, and the play on their tying goal was really unfortunate," Duchene told the Denver Post. "Jonesy makes a great play and the puck goes right back to Byfuglien and we're scrambling because our guy is lying on the ice. That was a tough way for them to tie it up, but we worked hard for the point we got, and we could have gotten."

Hurricanes - The 'Canes are coming off a poor showing in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday. Carolina has struggled to string together more than a three-game point streak so far this season. They currently rank fourth in the Southeast Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. They won't go very far with the kind of effort they showed against the Stars.

"We weren't any good," coach Paul Maurice said. "We had no jump, no quickness, no pace, missed the net eight times in the first period and were just off."

"It wasn't there," forward Tuomo Ruutu said of his team's effort. "Hopefully this doesn't happen again. I don't think we were a tough team to play against tonight."

Who's hot - David Jones has four points in his last five games and has a team-high 11 goals on the season (tied with Christ Stewart) … Eric Staal scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season in the Hurricanes last game. Rookie Jeff Skinner has 4 points in his last three games and is second on the team with 19 points on the season.

Injury report - Carolina has no injuries to report, while Colorado is without forwards TJ Galiardi (wrist), Chris Stewart (hand) and David Van Der Gulik (leg), as well as Kyle Cumiskey (concussion).

Stat pack - Colorado's Kevin Shattenkirk notched 11 points in November, the most by a rookie defenseman in that month since 1991, when Detroit rookies Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov had 17 and 13, respectively.

Puck drop - Although Anderson is returned from injury, Peter Budaj is expected to get the start for Colorado. Budaj is 9-5-2 with a 2.92 GAA but has given up at least three goals in his last eight games, including the overtime loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. Budaj also took the loss in Colorado's last visit to Carolina, 2-1 on Jan. 8.

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