Surprising Avs return home to face hobbled 'Canes

( - Still unbeaten on the road, the Colorado Avalanche return home on Friday night and look to extend their Denver success over the hobbled Carolina Hurricanes.

The Avalanche are off to an 8-1-0 start and have won two straight since suffering their first loss of the season on Oct. 17 versus a visiting Detroit Red Wings team.

Colorado won for the fifth time in as many road games this year when it bested the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 1-0 margin on Monday.

The Avalanche won just four road games all of last season, but surpassed that mark thanks to Jean-Sebastien Giguere's second shutout in three starts this season. He turned aside 34 shots, prevented the Penguins from scoring on any of their seven power-play chances and helped hold Sidney Crosby without a point for the first time in a game this season.

"You have to respect him, but at the same time as a goalie you have to be ready," said Giguere about facing Crosby. "They threw a lot of stuff at me tonight and I'm just happy to get the win."

Gabriel Landeskog scored the game's only goal for Colorado, which will play six of its next seven at home.

Though Giguere is 3-0-0 on the season and has yielded just two goals on 103 shots, Semyon Varlamov is expected to get the start tonight. He has been solid as well, going 5-1-0 with a 1.68 goals against average in six starts.

Varlamov is 3-0-3 with a 2.23 GAA in six career starts against Carolina.

Avs defenseman Erik Johnson is doubtful for this game after taking a shot off his foot in Wednesday's practice.

Carolina, meanwhile, saw the prospect of getting its first victory in Denver in over seven years take a hit on Thursday night when goaltender Cam Ward exited a 3-1 setback to Minnesota early.

Ward was forced out of action just 4:07 into the contest after stretching out to make a save. He is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks with a lower body injury.

With backup Anton Khudobin already out with a lower body injury, Justin Peters saw his first action of the season and made 19 saves on 21 shots.

"Peters came in and did a good job for jumping into that kind of situation," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller.

Alexander Semin scored on the power play for the Hurricanes, who had begun their current four-game road trip with back-to-back victories.

Carolina is expected to recall goaltender Mike Murphy from the American Hockey League and he has appeared in just two NHL games, both with the 'Canes during the 2011-12 season.

Peters is likely to get the start tonight and would be facing the Avalanche for the first time. He figures to be better prepared for this contest.

"(The Wild) got two quick ones on me as soon as I came in," Peters said after last night's loss. "I just tried to get my bearings. Once I got into the game, I felt more comfortable. Just tried to prove to myself that I'm an NHL goalie and instill that trust into the team here."

Carolina also saw forward Jeff Skinner exit with a lower body injury, leaving his status for this game in doubt. The young forward has three goals and nine points in 10 games this season.

Minus Ward and likely Skinner, the Hurricanes look to snap a 10-game winless stretch in Colorado. The franchise is 0-7-1 with a pair of ties in 10 road meetings with the Avs since a 3-2 overtime victory on Feb. 9, 1996.

Carolina has not won in regulation on the road in this series since Hartford bested Quebec on Feb. 1, 1994.

The Avalanche have 14 wins and three ties in the past 20 meetings overall.