Canes face road-weary Ducks to end homestand

Posted by Chip Alexander on November 15, 2013 

— The Canes are seeking to end a successful homestand Friday with another victory, but will be without forwards Jeff Skinner and Radek Dvorak.

Skinner returned to practice Thursday and Canes coach Kirk Muller said there was a chance he might play against the Ducks. But Skinner, who has missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury, was not at the morning skate Friday and Muller said he likely also would also miss Saturday's game in St. Louis.

Dvorak went through the skate but then was ruled out of the game by Muller. Dvorak suffered a lower-body injury during Tuesday's game against Colorado.

With Dvorak out, Muller said the Canes would dress seven defensemen. Mike Komisarek will get his first game since Oct. 25 and Tim Gleason will be a healthy extra.

Forward Kevin Westgarth (upper-body injury), who also rejoined practice Thursday, was not at the skate.

Justin Peters will start his ninth straight game in net for the Canes. It was first believed Cam Ward would be ready to be back on the bench Friday, but apparently Mike Murphy will be the backup against the Ducks.

The Canes are 3-0-1 in the homestand, a turnaround badly needed after five straight losses.

"It's been good," defenseman Justin Faulk said of the Canes' play and the homestand. "We've played well as a five-man unit on the ice and (Peters) has been great. We haven't scored a ton of goals but you don't need to when you're playing well defensively and eliminating scoring chances. It's not something that has been needed the last few games but obviously we want to get to the point where we're scoring a few more goals."

Faulk said after the losing streak, "The guys were feeling pretty down.” But he said a comeback win in overtime over Philadelphia to start the homestand, "Got that good feeling back again and let everyone taste a win. Everybody has been showing up to work and putting in the effort."

The Ducks were 15-3-1 before being hit with the flu bug and taking back-to-back losses on their recent road swing East. After a 3-2 loss Tuesday at Florida, the Ducks were beaten 5-1 Thursday at Tampa Bay.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau needed one word Friday to sum up the loss to the Lightning: "Brutal." He also was not sure what players would be healthy enough and available for Friday's game.

"There's a lot of game-time decisions," Boudreau said after the Ducks’ optional skate at PNC Arena. "There's three more guys sick who stayed back (at the hotel). We don't know what's going on. We might be short tonight."

Teemu Selanne and Bryan Allen were among the players who did not come to the rink.

The Ducks began the season with three road games. Starting in late-October, they played another eight in a row in the East. They went home for three games, now are on another four-game trip, and Boudreau said the back-and-forth is having an effect on his team.

"I hate to use that as an excuse but reality is reality," Boudreau said.

Boudreau, who coached the Washington Capitals before going to the Ducks, smiled and added, "If I ever coach in the East again I'll never bitch, ever, about travel. Ever. I don't care if we play in Spain one night and Tokyo the next. I'll never bitch about travel."

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