|COL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
A game against the Carolina Hurricanes might be just what the Colorado Avalanche needs to get its offense back on track.
The Avalanche will be looking to continue its domination of the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes when it visits the RBC Center on Saturday.
Colorado (22-18-3) has managed only five goals in its last four games and has scored two or fewer in six of its last seven. Marek Svatos, who leads the team with 17 goals, scored with 3:21 left in Wednesday's 2-1 loss in Washington, helping the Avalanche avoid being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since November 2001.
"We're having a hard time generating offense," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose team is 1-5-1 over its last seven. "We're not getting much production, and that's what we're looking for."
Now, Colorado will be trying to take advantage of a Carolina team that ranks near the bottom of the league with 3.13 goals allowed per game and owns the worst penalty-kill unit in the NHL at 76 percent.
The Avalanche will also be trying to continue its run of success against the Hurricanes (22-20-4) - Colorado is undefeated in its last 14 games against them, with 11 wins and three ties over that span.
The unbeaten streak began with a 4-4 tie in Colorado on Nov. 16, 1996, in the teams' second-to-last meeting before the Hurricanes franchise moved from Hartford to North Carolina prior to the 1997-98 season.
Of course, the Avalanche will still be dealing with injuries to forward Ryan Smyth, who has not played since Dec. 31 because of a broken ankle, and captain Joe Sakic, who has been out since the end of November with a hernia. Neither is expected back for close to two months.
Colorado did get some help on Wednesday, as center Tyler Arnason returned after missing 12 games with an injured wrist.
"You try to pick up the slack," said Paul Stastny, who was named Colorado's lone All-Star representative on Thursday. "It would be nice to have them. If we use them as an excuse, we'll be out of the race real quick.
"What we're trying to do is keep battling - bear down harder. We can't moan about it."
Stastny leads the Avalanche with 29 assists and 44 points, but has gone a career-worst 10 games without a goal. The second-year center isn't the only Colorado player struggling - Milan Hejduk has gone eight games without a goal and Andrew Brunette has just one score in his last 17 contests.
The Hurricanes have lost five of their last seven, including Thursday's 4-1 defeat to New Jersey. Keith Aucoin, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, scored his first NHL goal but the Hurricanes allowed two power-play goals after yielding none in their previous three games.
Trevor Letowski, Glen Wesley, Ray Whitney and Wade Brookbank missed the game with the flu, while Justin Williams (knee), Bret Hedican (knee), David Tanabe (concussion), Matt Cullen (concussion) and Scott Walker (knee) all sat out with injuries, leaving Carolina with only 17 skaters.
Center Eric Staal, who leads the team with 23 goals, was named Carolina's lone All-Star representative.
|Jan 12 '08||COL 5 at CAR 4||M. Svatos|