Hurricanes return from break to host Avalanche

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes are counting on their time off providing a lift as they return to action Friday night to begin a five-game homestand.

The opponent at PNC Arena will be the Colorado Avalanche, the worst team in the NHL.

"When you take five days off, you're going to sink a little in the standings," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "Now you have to make sure you win on a consistent basis. ... We're going to make up some games in hand. You have to play good."

The Hurricanes (24-22-7) were off this week, so a layoff since Saturday's loss in Dallas has been time to recoup and gear up for what must be a strong final two months if they're going to break through and make the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"When we skate and are good on the forecheck, we're at our best," Peters said. "There's definitely some challenges. I believe in the group."

The Hurricanes have work to do after a recent rough stretch despite picking up six of a possible 10 points in the five-game span prior to the five-day layoff.

"We're trying to get some consistent (play)," Peters said.

The Avalanche (15-38-2) suffered their fifth consecutive loss with Thursday night's 2-0 setback at Buffalo.

"Just being in games isn't what we're looking for," Colorado forward Matt Duchene said. "We're looking to win games. There's things we have to do better."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he tried to mix up the team's routine at times in order to break out of the slump. Much of what's being emphasized is of a learning nature, but that doesn't mean the outcome of games hasn't taken a toll.

"We can't worry about the last few games now," Bednar said.

The matchup in Raleigh pits two teams occupying last place in their respective divisions. The Hurricanes lost their last two games.

"It's a results-based business," Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard said. "We can definitely play better so we have to find a way to win."

Friday's game wraps up a stretch of five road games in a seven-day stretch for Colorado, so the Avalanche has been considerably busier than the Hurricanes.

"We've been offensively challenged this trip," Duchene said, with the team managing a total of six goals during the five-game skid.

For Carolina, now is the time to get after it and this might be the ideal opponent coming off the idle time and in need of an immediate jump-start. Peters said he's aware some teams have had trouble coming out of similar layoffs.

"This is the start to a five-game segment," Peters said. "We have to play our best hockey of the season."

Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla posted 26 points in 25 games against the Hurricanes. Carolina center Jordan Staal has compiled 12 points in 11 career games against Colorado.

Carolina won its last six home games against the Avalanche. The teams meet again next month in Denver.