SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) – Thursday night’s game at the BB&T Center features two teams currently heading in opposite directions.
The Colorado Avalanche aren’t scoring much, are giving up huge shot totals, and the most difficult portion of their five-game road trip still awaits.
It could really begin to drag on if they can’t straighten things out Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, who open a five-game homestand after a promising trip that ended in embarrassing fashion.
After Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina, the Avalanche (18-17-9) have scored three goals in consecutive losses to begin the trip, which concludes with stops in Tampa Bay and St. Louis.
The last-place, offensively challenged Hurricanes pelted them with 46 shots, and over the last five games, the Avalanche are facing an average of 43.2.
“It is a concern. It’s way too much,” coach Patrick Roy told the team’s official website. “In the first (period), we had so many turnovers and giveaways. We were not sharp at all. But the good thing is it’s a good group. They bounced back in the second and the third, played a lot better.”
The Panthers (20-12-9) began the new year with a 4-2-0 trip, but it ended with Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to Winnipeg.
“We had a great trip, but to end it off like this with a performance like tonight, we’re disappointed,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “So it wasn’t one guy, it wasn’t one line. It was every player on our team. We’ve just got to regroup tomorrow, go back home and get ready for the next game.”
Dave Bolland scored his first goal in 20 games with the Panthers, while Brad Boyes tallied his fourth in nine games after scoring five in his first 30. Jonathan Huberdeau had an assist to give him six points in four games, but it was the other end of the ice that had the Panthers’ attention.
“I think my son who’s 11 months now, he probably could have scored a couple tonight, too,” said Boyes, who has nine points in his last seven games against Colorado. “It wasn’t the way that we normally play.”
Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya split the damage with Luongo starting and allowing the first four goals. He entered 8-1-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average over his previous 11 starts.
The All-Star goalie has dominated Colorado for more than five years with a 2.05 GAA during a 13-0-2 stretch.
That doesn’t bode well for an Avalanche team that’s averaging 1.95 goals on the road with six in its last five away games.
For Colorado, Semyon Varlamov had the night off against Carolina, but he’s been up to the challenge of the inflated shot totals. He’s faced an average of 42.5 over a 3-1-0 stretch with a 1.77 GAA and .959 save percentage.
His strong play has contributed to a penalty kill that’s gone 18 for 19 over the last six games. Florida’s power play is one of the worst in the NHL at 13.0 percent and is 0 for 13 over the last five games.
The Panthers won 4-3 in overtime at Colorado on Oct. 21 with Boyes scoring the winner and adding an assist. Colorado won 3-2 in the last meeting in Florida on Jan. 24 and is 14-2-2 all-time there, including a pair of wins in its sweep of the Panthers in the 1996 Stanley Cup finals.
Ryan O’Reilly has eight points on a five-game streak against Florida.
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