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Vanek Returns Tonight against Hurricanes

1:35 PM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - With wins in each of their last three games the Carolina Hurricanes should have reason to rejoice but it isn't all good news for the first-place club.

On Tuesday, the Hurricanes will try to get on without their No. 1 goaltender as they host the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena.

Carolina matched its longest winning streak of the season with a 3-2 regulation decision Sunday at Florida, but Cam Ward suffered a sprained MCL in the victory and will miss six-to-eight weeks of action due the injury.

Ward, who started in 60 or more games for Carolina in five of the past six seasons, is 9-6-1 with a 2.84 goals-against average in 17 contests in 2013. The third degree sprain could cost Ward the entire season, as an eight-week time frame would coincide with the conclusion of the shortened NHL season on April 27.

Dan Ellis will serve as the club's top goaltender in Ward's absence and the club also recalled Justin Peters from Charlotte of the American Hockey League.

Ward stopped all 15 shots he faced before leaving Sunday's 3-2 win over the Panthers. Ellis allowed two goals on 21 shots in relief to help Carolina hold on for the win and complete a sweep of the home-and-home series.

Jordan Staal's tally at 6:10 of the second period eventually proved to be the game-winner for Carolina, which leads the Southeast Division by four points over Winnipeg.

Justin Faulk and Alexander Semin each added a goal for the Hurricanes, who have won four of their last five.

"We've played very strong defensively," Ellis said. "We've started to develop our team identity."

Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen and forward Tim Brent both missed Sunday's game with lower-body injuries and each player is questionable for Tuesday.

Carolina is kicking off a three-game homestand on Tuesday and is 5-4-0 in Raleigh this season.

The Sabres lost a 3-2 shootout decision Sunday in New York City, ending a three-game winning streak for the club. The New York Rangers killed off five power plays, including a two-man advantage in overtime, before Rick Nash was credited with the winning shootout tally.

Nathan Gerbe scored a short-handed goal for Buffalo and Drew Stafford had the game's only even-strength tally. Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis each missed their chances in the shootout. Ryan Miller made 26 saves in the losing effort.

"Getting points for us right now is the most important thing," Miller said. "It sucks to lose, but the important thing is we keep doing the right things."

Buffalo will not have forward Patrick Kaleta for the next five games thanks to an ugly hit he delivered on New York's Brad Richards. A silence fell over Madison Square Garden early in the third when Kaleta cross-checked Richards from behind. Richards laid on the ice for several minutes, but was eventually able to return to the game.

On Monday, Kaleta was hit with a five-game suspension, meaning he won't be eligible to return to action until Mar. 17 when the Sabres play the Washington Capitals.

Buffalo, which is making the second stop on a four-game road trip on Tuesday, is 5-6-1 as the visiting club this season.

Carolina is 2-0 against the Sabres in 2013 and Tuesday's encounter is the final scheduled encounter between the clubs this season.

 

The Sports Network

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