RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Ray Whitney scored two goals and the Carolina Hurricanes claimed a chippy 2-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
Cam Ward finished with 29 saves and took a bid for his 13th career shutout into the final minute, and Matt Cullen added two assists. The NHL's worst team has won three of five.
The teams combined for 58 penalty minutes, with the violence starting early when Colorado's Darcy Tucker and Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu traded punches - apparently retaliating for Ruutu's hit on Tucker in the teams' last meeting. On Oct. 23, Ruutu sent Tucker into the boards and, eventually, off the ice on a backboard, leaving behind a pool of blood on the ice.
Ward, who made his 11th straight start, flirted with his first shutout since a 9-0 victory over the New York Islanders on April 7, 2009. Carolina, which has picked up seven points in its last six games, entered with 29 points - 10 behind Toronto, the second-worst team in the East.
Whitney made it a two-goal game 37 seconds into the second period, skating down the right side, faking a slap shot and instead sneaking a wrist shot past Budaj for his 13th goal. That gave him his third multi-goal game of the season and first since Dec. 12, when he scored twice in a 4-2 loss to Ottawa.
This time, his first goal came 5:30 in and capped off one of the team's best individual efforts of the season. Just 29 seconds into a charging penalty on Cody McLeod, Whitney took a pass from Matt Cullen, skated by a turned-around Ryan Wilson between the hash marks and slipped a backhand past Budaj.
That came after things got off to a chippy start when Tucker and Ruutu dropped their gloves roughly four minutes in. This time, it was Ruutu who wound up hurt; he didn't return after sustaining an upper-body injury.
Each player received a fighting major for their latest scrap, the first in a series of dustups between the teams and one of the highlights of a whistle-filled opening period in which there were a combined 42 penalty minutes.
NOTES: Avalanche C Paul Stastny had Ward beat from point-blank range with about 7 1/2 minutes left, but his shot rang the left post. ... Colorado fell to 8-4-1 against the East. ... Cullen has points in three straight games. ... Carolina RW Tom Kostopolous pulled Wilson's jersey over his head during another early scrap. Colorado RW Chris Stewart returned the favor to Hurricanes D Tim Gleason during the faceoff that followed Whitney's second goal.