Canes fall to hot Avalanche team 4-2

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 25, 2013 

— Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said he was taking a “no-excuse” approach to his team’s game Friday against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Canes’ top goalie, Cam Ward, is out three or four weeks with an injury. Backup goalie Anton Khudobin is injured. Forward Jeff Skinner, the Canes’ top scorer, is injured.

But Muller said the shorthanded Canes would go into the game against arguably the NHL’s hottest team with only victory in mind.

The hot team won again. The Avs (9-1-0) continued the best start in franchise history and grabbed a 4-2 win at the Pepsi Center.

Matt Duchene scored twice and set up a second-period score by Alex Tanguay with a well-executed pass. Defenseman Erik Johnson also scored in the first.

A quick strike by the Canes’ Drayson Bowman just 12 seconds into the second period provided some needed momentum. But Tanguay’s score midway through the period pushed the Avs’ lead to 3-1.

Bowman, playing in his hometown, was in the starting lineup and scored his first of the season off a Jordan Staal pass. Defenseman Andrej Sekera also got his first, scoring on a backdoor play in the third.

The Canes (4-4-3), beaten 3-1 on Thursday by the Minnesota Wild, kept pushing but couldn’t catch up.

Tim Gleason played his first game of the season and the 600th of his career. The Canes defenseman missed the first 10 games after a concussion in a preseason game.

Ward was hurt early in the Wild game, forcing Justin Peters made an emergency appearance in net. Peters made his first start Friday and faced 18 first-period shots as the Avs used their speed and attacking style to maintain offensive pressure while goalie Semyon Varlamov was efficient enough in net.

Varlamov’s biggest save came on a third-period power play by the Canes, as he stoned Alexander Semin from point-blank range.

Avs coach Patrick Roy and Muller once were teammates with the Montreal Canadiens, winning the Stanley Cup in 1993. Roy’s first year as an NHL coach has been near flawless, the Avs winning the first six games, while Muller now must deal with some serious adversity in his third season.

Johnson picked up his second goal of the season with 8:30 left in the first as the defenseman crashed the net. Peters stopped a shot by Paul Stastny, but Johnson had the puck go off his skate and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

The Canes appeared to gain some momentum in the first after killing off 1:47 of a 5-on-3 power play by the Avs. Ryan Murphy was called for tripping after falling and losing the puck in the Canes zone, and Radek Dvorak then flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty.

But late in the period, Duchene scored. Collecting the puck behind the Canes net, he beat Peters to the post and stuffed in a shot with 2:27 left in the period.

Tanguay’s score came as he flashed in front of the crease as Duchene was centering a pass from the right circle. Duchene scored a power-play goal early in the third for a 4-1 lead.

The Canes’ injuries did result in some personnel moves Friday and some lineup changes.

Ward was placed on injured reserve. So was defenseman Brett Bellemore, who suffered a lower-body injury Thursday against the Wild.

Rookie Elias Lindholm, after missing five games with a shoulder injury, returned to the lineup and centered the fourth line. Defenseman Mike Komisarek also made his third start of the season, replacing Jay Harrison.

On the bench was goalie Mike Murphy, who was recalled Friday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL on an emergency basis.

The Canes didn’t get through the game unscathed: forward Radek Dvorak left the game with a lower-body injury.

“We’re not going to make excuses,” Muller said Friday morning. “Injuries are part of the game and we’re going to throw together a group of guys who are good enough to win a hockey game.”

No Canes team, good or otherwise, has been able to win at the Pepsi Center. The arena opened in 1999 and the Canes now are 0-7-1 against the Avs on Colorado’s home ice.

The Canes, after four straight road games, face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday at PNC Arena and will play seven of their next eight games on home ice.

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