Cullen’s hat trick helps Hurricanes storm Avalanche

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) — Matt Cullen helped the
Carolina Hurricanes end their futility against the Colorado

Cullen netted his first career hat trick to lead the Hurricanes
to their third straight win, a 5-2 victory over the Avalanche on

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen recorded a goal and an assist and Ryan
Bayda also scored for the Hurricanes (31-25-5), who have won
four of their last five contests to move within one point of the
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose collected two assists apiece and Cam
Ward made 17 saves for Carolina, which defeated the Avalanche
for the first time since moving from Hartford. The franchise’s
previous win over Colorado was February 9, 1996.

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Wojtek Wolski and Darcy Tucker tallied and Andrew Raycroft
stopped 34 shots for the Avalanche, who had their three-game
winning streak snapped.

Pitkanen gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 edge with 2:54 left in the
middle session, fighting off a defender and punching in a
rebound of Tuomo Ruutu’s shot from the slot for his sixth goal
of the season.

Bayda provided some breathing room at 8:49 of the third period
and Cullen sent the hats showering to ice with an empty-netter
with 32 ticks to play.

After Wolski opened the scoring 59 seconds into the contest,
Cullen leveled the game exactly seven minutes into the first

The 32-year-old Cullen also scored 79 ticks into the second,
converting a wraparound to give Carolina a 2-1 bulge.