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Sunday, February 22nd (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (28-30-1) at Carolina Hurricanes (30-25-5), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The 2008-09 season has been an up-and-down one for the Colorado Avalanche, but the club has been doing its best to turn things around as of late.

Colorado aims for its first four-game winning streak since October when it visits the RBC Center this afternoon to take on a Carolina Hurricanes franchise the Avalanche have owned in recent years.

Things appeared bleak for the Avalanche after a brutal month-long stretch in which the team won just three times in 14 outings between mid-January and the first two weeks of this month. Colorado has since gotten itself back on track with three consecutive victories, including an ousting of defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit on the road last Sunday and Friday's impressive 4-1 triumph over Southeast Division leader Washington at the Verizon Center.

Ryan Smyth led the way against the Capitals with a pair of goals and an assist as the Avalanche kicked off an important six-game road trip on a most positive note. Adam Foote added a goal and an assist to help back a 28-save performance from Colorado goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

Despite their recent surge, the Avs still stand at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with 57 points, but are only six points back of the eighth and final playoff seed.

If recent history is any indication, Colorado stands a good chance of gaining some ground today. The Avalanche are unbeaten in their last 15 matchups with the Carolina franchise, having posted 12 wins and three ties over that stretch. In six lifetime trips to Raleigh, Colorado has come away with five victories and one tie.

The Hurricanes' last win in this series came all the way back on February 9, 1996, when the then-Hartford Whalers delivered a 3-2 overtime decision at the now-defunct McNichols Arena in Denver.

Carolina is in a heated battle for a postseason berth as well, entering today's tilt in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and three points back of a postseason spot. The Hurricanes have helped their cause by winning their last two games, most recently downing Tampa Bay by a 4-1 count Friday at the RBC Center.

Eric Staal had a goal and an assist to help Carolina snap a three-game home losing streak, with Joe Corvo sealing the win with a pair of power-play scores within a 39-second span in the third period.

Jussi Jokinen, acquired in a trade with the Lightning on February 7, scored his first goal in a Carolina uniform in the victory. The Hurricanes outshot Tampa Bay by a whopping 41-13 margin for the game, with goaltender Cam Ward needing to make just 12 saves on the night.

Friday's win improved Carolina to 15-13-1 at home on the season. The Avalanche are just 11-16-1 on the road and will also visit Atlanta, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders on their current trek.

02/22 10:34:38 ET


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