The Carolina Hurricanes' playoff push didn't miss a beat with Cam Ward sidelined. They'll now look to continue this drive with their starting goaltender back between the pipes.
Expected to start, Ward looks to lead the Hurricanes to a sixth win in eight games Tuesday night against the slumping Calgary Flames.
Carolina is 5-0-2 since Dec. 28 and is just three points back of eighth-place Montreal in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes (20-15-6) were eight back of the East's final playoff spot before their surge began.
Three of Carolina's last four games have gone to overtime, and it finally managed to come out on top in one Sunday when Erik Cole scored 2:09 into the extra period to lift the Hurricanes to a 4-3 win over Atlanta. Jeff Skinner also scored, giving him five goals in as many games, and Justin Peters finished with 25 saves.
"At the end of the year those overtime losses or wins can really make a difference in the standings, and obviously we want to get as many of those points as we can because it's so tight," Peters said. "To be able to come out with two points is pretty exciting."
Peters has won back-to-back starts in place of Ward, who sat out with an undisclosed minor injury, but he is expected to return to his role of backup for this game.
Ward is 3-0-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average and one shutout in his last five starts overall, but he has allowed at least three goals in four consecutive games at the RBC Center, losing three of them.
The Hurricanes have lost four of five against Calgary, but won the last meeting in Raleigh, 6-1 on March 6, 2009. Carolina lost at Calgary 4-1 in last season's lone meeting, as Flames forward Curtis Glencross notched his only career hat trick.
Glencross had two goals and an assist for Calgary in Friday's 5-4 shootout loss to Detroit. The Flames (18-20-4) have lost three straight games immediately following a season-best four-game winning streak. They haven't lost four in a row since Oct. 28-Nov. 5.
Getting things turned around could be difficult for Calgary, which is opening a four-game road trip. The Flames have lost six of their last eight away from the Saddledome, and are 4-9-3 on the road since Nov. 12.
It appeared Calgary would beat the Red Wings, leading 4-2 in the second period, but Miikka Kiprusoff ended up allowing some soft goals.
"I'm not pointing fingers, I'm not going to do that, but there are saves that have to be made, and they go through you," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "We deserved two points here and we never got them."
Although Kiprusoff has been a bit shaky in allowing seven goals on 48 shots while losing his last two starts, he has been outstanding against the Hurricanes, posting a 1.00 GAA and two shutouts in winning all four career starts against them.
Former Carolina defenseman Anton Babchuk had a goal and two assists Friday for his first multipoint game since being acquired from the Hurricanes on Nov. 17.
Flames forward Tom Kostopoulos was also part of that trade for Brett Sutter and Ian White, but he won't get a chance to face his former team after being issued a six-game suspension by the NHL on Sunday for delivering a blow to the head of Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart.
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