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Hurricanes top Avalanche on Rask's OT goal

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- It took overtime, but the Carolina Hurricanes finally found a way to defeat the Colorado Avalanche in a road game when Victor Rask scored at 1:49 for a 1-0 win Wednesday at Pepsi Center.

Rask burst past Gabriel Landeskog in the Avalanche zone, cut in and slid a backhand shot past goalie Semyon Varlamov, who made 18 saves.

"Great opportunity real quick," said Rask, who took a pass from Ryan Murphy before scoring his second goal of the season. "I think their guys were out there for a long time, so I had a good step on the guys that were out and just put it in the net. I was just trying to drag it all the way over to the other side, and just had open net and put it in."

The goal came after Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward stopped Jarome Iginla on a clean breakaway 25 seconds into overtime. Ward finished with 26 saves for his first shutout of the season and 23rd of his NHL career.

The Avalanche had won 10 consecutive games against the Hurricanes at home, nine at Pepsi Center, and were unbeaten in previous 12 games in Denver, including two ties. Colorado's last home loss against Carolina franchise was a 3-2 defeat on Feb. 9, 1996, at McNichols Sports Arena when the Hurricanes were known as the Hartford Whalers.

The Hurricanes (2-4-0) were starting the second leg of a seven-game road trip after going 1-1-0 in the first two games. They play at the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

"It's good to start off on the right foot," coach Bill Peters said. "It sets up the rest of the trip. It's always good to get some momentum early in the trip."

Ward held his ground against Iginla, who took a breakout pass from Matt Duchene and cruised into the Hurricanes' end under a head of steam.

"Three-on-three obviously you have to be ready for the scoring chance because they're going to be coming," Ward said. "The way we've seen throughout the League, the goaltender has to make a big save and then hopefully you can turn it around and go back the other way. Fortunately, we were able to do that."

Ward also made a spectacular stop against Duchene with 3:42 remaining in the third period, raising his stick to knock away the puck with his paddle.

"It was an unbelievable pass by Jarome and then Duchene made a great fake and I bit pretty hard," Ward said. "Just out of pure desperation I threw my paddle out there and fortunately got a little bit lucky. It's just a will and never giving up on [stopping] the puck."

The Avalanche (2-3-1) have gone 1-2-1 in their first four home games; they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday to complete a two-game homestand.

"Those are the chances you'd love to have back and they come back right after that and score," Iginla said of his breakaway. "But I thought even before that in the last 5 to 10 minutes we had a good push and some really good chances. Both goalies were outstanding tonight. We felt like we let [Varlamov] down. We couldn't find him one goal. It's tough when you get a breakaway in OT and you don't get it."

Duchene, who has one goal in the first six games, was especially frustrated.

"I'm [upset] right now, absolutely, extremely frustrated that I wasn't able to finish that one off," he said of Ward's stick save. "I'm trying to find a way to blame myself, and it's tough because it's an amazing save. I tried to roof it. In hindsight I could have just slid it in, but you're never going to do that because the goalie has an easier time making that save."

Both teams had plenty of power-play opportunities but couldn't convert. The Hurricanes had six shots on five power plays and are 2-for-26 this season. The Avalanche had five shots on four power plays.

"We can't score on the power play, but we had a good couple of shots," Rask said.

Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles left the ice with a towel over his face at 14:41 of the second period after he was hit by Iginla's skate in a collision in the corner. He returned in the third period and said after the game that he was fine.

"Thought I'd lost some teeth," he said, "but it's OK."

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