The Avalanche continue their six-game Eastern trek Sunday against the Hurricanes, who haven’t beaten Colorado since they were the Hartford Whalers.
Colorado (28-30-1) won its third straight Friday night, beating Washington 4-1 and ending Alex Ovechkin’s 10-game point streak. The Avalanche clogged the middle of the ice to contain Ovechkin then scored the game’s final three goals against former Colorado netminder Jose Theodore.
“It’s something we’ve emphasized all year, but we’ve really emphasized in the last week - coming back through the neutral zone, in the middle, making stops and making it tough on teams,” said left wing Ryan Smyth, who had a goal and two assists.
Colorado has been tough on the former Whalers since Nov. 16, 1996, going 12-0-0 with three ties. The Avalanche have outscored the Hurricanes 21-10 in the last five meetings.
The franchise’s previous win over Colorado was Feb. 9, 1996, and since moving from Hartford in 1997-98, the Hurricanes are 0-5-0 with one tie versus the Avalanche.
After scoring five goals during a four-game skid, Colorado has 13 during its win streak with Smyth and Wojtek Wolski scoring in the last two.
Smyth, Wolski, Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos are also on three-game point streaks. In these teams’ last meeting Jan. 12, 2008, Svatos scored two third-period goals to help the Avalanche overcome a two-goal deficit in a 5-4 win at the RBC Center.
Colorado’s offense will get another boost when Paul Stastny returns after a seven-week absence due to a broken right forearm. Stastny, who had a team-leading 71 points last season and is fourth with 31 this season, is expected to come back during the road trip.
The Avalanche, however, will be without top defenseman John-Michael Liles, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday with an ailing wrist.
Colorado, which gave up 53 goals during a 3-11-0 stretch from Jan. 13-Feb. 13, has gotten strong back-to-back performances from Andrew Raycroft, who has yielded three goals in the past two games.
The Hurricanes (30-25-5) broke a three-game home skid with a 4-1 win Friday night against Tampa Bay, getting two power-play goals from Joe Corvo in a 39-second span during the third period.
Carolina, outscored 15-2 in its losing streak at the RBC Center, is looking for a third straight overall win Sunday.
“We needed that, especially after the last couple of games at home,” center Eric Staal said. “We’ve played a pretty good stretch of hockey, the way we’ve been competing and skating.”
Staal, who has a team-leading 27 goals, has four in the last four games with three assists, and Ray Whitney has five points in the last three to give him a team-best 49.
Sunday’s game will mark the seventh in 11 days for Carolina, which has gone 3-3-0 during that time.