DENVER – Seeing Darcy Tucker injured on a check into the boards was bad enough. Colorado coach Joe Sacco tried to make sure things didn’t get any worse, urging his team to rein in its emotions after seeing Tucker taken off the ice on a backboard.
The talk seemed to refocus the Avalanche, with Milan Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski scoring goals in quick succession after Tucker’s injury and Colorado went on to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 on Friday night.
“You can go two ways there,” Avalanche captain Adam Foote said. “Joe grabbed the guys and told them to regain their composure and not go running around trying to get guys back. You can lose your whole team on a hit like that, end up in the box and lose the two points. It’s probably a good thing (Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu) got the major and got kicked out of the game.”
Tucker was hurt when he was slammed into the boards by Ruutu as he tried to play the puck in the Hurricanes’ end at 14:34 of the second period.
Tucker’s face hit the glass hard and he fell to the ice on his back unconscious as Avalanche doctors and trainers attended to him, bringing a hush to both benches and the crowd.
Medical personnel applied a neck brace before strapping the forward to a backboard. Tucker appeared to regain consciousness as he was moved off the ice, revealing a pool of blood where he had been laying for more than five minutes.
The team said Tucker had a concussion but was alert and taken to the hospital for further treatment and evaluation.
Ruutu was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct, and Hejduk scored on the subsequent power play, converting a feed from Paul Stasny to put the Avalanche up 3-2 at 10 minutes of the second period.
Forty seconds later, Wolski scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season, one-timing a shot off a pass behind the net from Chris Stewart.
“After what happened there, we got two goals and got momentum in the game,” Stastny said. “First and foremost, I’ll keep him in my thoughts.”
Carolina coach Paul Maurice said he didn’t see Ruutu’s hit on Tucker.
“All I can say is the league will take care of looking at it and I’m a huge, huge Darcy Tucker supporter and I hope he’s OK. I really do,” said Maurice, who coached Tucker with Toronto.
He added that Ruutu’s hit also cost the Hurricanes.
“We missed him,” Maurice said. “There’s no question. On the road, to lose a forward like that, we missed him.”
Carolina, trying for its first win in five road games, pulled within one on Matt Cullen’s goal at 16:15 of the second period and was in position to tie it early in the third period when Ray Whitney was awarded a penalty shot after David Jones interfered with his path to the net from behind. Whitney rushed up to net and let loose a shot from up close that goalie Craig Anderson blocked by getting his stick out front and dropping to his knees.
Anderson had 32 saves on the night while making his 10th consecutive start to open the season, a franchise record. He had his seventh win this month, tying the team record for most wins in October.
The teams traded goals in the third period, with Paul Stastny scoring his second goal of the night with Colorado in a 5-on-3 power play. He beat goalie Cam Ward after getting a pass across the crease from Hejduk. Carolina again came back when Whitney broke through for a goal at 8:40 of the third.
Carolina took a 2-0 lead on Joseph Corvo’s first-goal of the season, a power-play score 3:16 into the game, followed just over two minutes later by Ruutu’s second of the campaign.
Colorado tied later in the first with a pair of goals scored 31 seconds apart.
Rookie Ryan O’Reilly scored his second goal of the season at 16:16 of the period. Stastny’s first goal of the night came at 16:47, with an assist from Ryan Wilson, who had his first NHL point.
NOTES: Backup goalie Peter Budaj was scratched because of the flu and the Avalanche recalled goalie Tyler Weiman from Lake Erie of the AHL. … Carolina fell to 0-6 at the Pepsi Center, which opened in October 1999. … The Avs, coming off their longest trip since moving to Denver from Quebec City 14 years ago, improved to 3-0 at home.