NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
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
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