Colorado (15-8-5) at Florida (10-12-4)

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  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Wed Dec 2, 2009
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Losing a season-high five in a row might have been hard enough for the Florida Panthers, but a bizarre injury to Tomas Vokoun(notes) may be a bigger problem.

The Panthers hope to have Vokoun back in net Wednesday night when they host the Colorado Avalanche.

Florida’s skid continued Monday with a 4-3 loss to Atlanta, but it may have suffered an even bigger blow with Vokoun being taken off the ice on a stretcher at 8:54 of the first period after accidentally getting hit in the head by the stick of teammate Keith Ballard(notes).

The defenseman was reacting angrily to a goal scored by Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) and swung his stick wildly, catching Vokoun before eventually breaking it on the post with another swing.

Vokoun fell to the ice and removed his helmet, revealing a cut to his ear that was streaming blood.

“(Ballard) was visibly shaken and upset by the incident,” coach Peter DeBoer told the Panthers’ official Web site. “We found out between periods Tomas was going to be fine and (Ballard) gutted it out and played the rest of the night for us. Tomas got on the plane and they had a chance to chat and sit together and, really, there was no hard feelings. Let’s be honest, this isn’t an unprecedented event.”

Vokoun’s cut was stitched and isn’t considered serious, but his status is uncertain.

“Whenever he can get a helmet on I think he’ll play. That’s kind of (the talk) around the dressing room here and amongst our training staff,” DeBoer said. “It’s in an uncomfortable spot to put a goalie mask on.

“As soon as we can rig something up to get his helmet on around the stitches, he’ll be ready to play, whether that’s Wednesday, Thursday or the weekend, it won’t be long term.”

Vokoun is 7-9-4 with a 2.82 goals-against average and three shutouts, going 0-1-2 with a 3.37 GAA in his last four starts. He made 23 saves in a 3-0 win over Colorado at BankAtlantic Center on Dec. 21 in these teams’ only meeting last season.

Florida (10-12-4) is 2-10-1 at home against the Avalanche.

Backup Scott Clemmensen(notes) made 28 saves in relief Monday. He is 3-3-0 with a 3.69 GAA in seven games after signing a three-year contract following an impressive 2008-09 with New Jersey, when he went 25-13-1 with a 2.39 GAA in 40 contests.

The Avalanche (15-8-5) are looking to build on Monday’s 3-0 win over Tampa Bay, opening a five-game road trip in strong fashion after dropping eight of the previous 10 (2-5-3).

Matt Duchene(notes), taken third overall in June’s draft, has been a bright spot of late. The center has three goals in the last two games, scoring twice against the Lightning. That spurt is part of a seven-game stretch that has seen Duchene total four goals and three assists.

“Some luck may be coming back my way,” said Duchene, who has six goals and eight assists. “I’ve been playing better, too.”

Colorado is hoping to have Milan Hejduk(notes) back from a knee injury that has forced him to miss the last two games. The right wing leads the team with 11 goals and has scored three with five assists in six games at Florida.

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Wednesday, Dec 2