Road warrior Hurricanes getting it done

October, 31, 2008
10/31/08
2:10
PM ET
Without much fanfare, the Carolina Hurricanes survived a grueling opening month with a nifty 5-2-2 record.

That may not impress you too much, but consider that seven of their nine games in October were on the road, including a recent six-game road trip through Los Angeles, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Montreal and St. Louis, where the team went 3-1-2.

"We'll take that winning percentage any time on a long trip," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told ESPN.com on Friday.

Adding to their surprising start is the fact that the Hurricanes have been hammered by key injuries. Out are forwards Justin Williams, Brandon Sutter, Scott Walker and defensemen Frantisek Kaberle and Joni Pitkanen.

But they found a way in October, led by Cam Ward and Michael Leighton.

"Our goaltending has been special, very special," Rutherford said. "We had the one off-game on Long Island where they outshot us by a lot [60-28], and our goalie [Ward] came through. Both netminders have been special.

"And just really a lot of hard work and a lot of different guys contributing. The guys have really stuck together."

Rutherford added some needed forward depth Friday when he signed former Buffalo Sabres forward Michael Ryan to a two-way, one-year deal that pays him $475,000 in the NHL and $75,000 in the AHL (although he's guaranteed $100,000).

Ryan, 28, is a versatile forward who can play different roles. He slipped through the NHL cracks after failing to make Nashville's team at training camp as a free agent. (He wanted a one-way deal.)

"It's one of those things where it got to the day where he felt he had to make a decision, and we were fortunate that the timing was good for us," Rutherford said.

"We still had room in our budget to do it and we needed him."

The Hurricanes finally get some home cooking this weekend with a game Saturday against Edmonton and Sunday against Toronto.

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