John-Michael Liles and Joe Sakic score to help Avalanche beat Hurricanes 5-2

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The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't protect a third-period lead Monday night, when they gave up four goals, three on power plays, to fall 5-2 to the Colorado Avalanche and conclude a winless four-game road trip. "Our problems have been snowballing on this trip," Carolina goaltender John Grahame said of the 0-3-1 trip. "Tonight they snowballed bigger than the rink." Grahame was victimized by power-play goals by John-Michael Liles, Joe Sakic and Pierre Turgeon in the third.

"We give up three power-play goals in the third period, two of them where we had back door breakdowns," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "On the third we had players watching the play in the slot."

Justin Williams scored his second goal of the game at 1:08 of the third period to give Carolina a 2-1 lead. And then the roof caved in on them.

"I thought we had turned the corner," said Williams, who has 13th goals. "Obviously, we haven't."

Grahame stopped 25 shots for the Hurricanes, who were 1-for-7 on the power play.

"When you're given a lead in the third period, you'd better hold it," Grahame said. "We didn't."

Andrew Brunette had a goal and two assists, and Tyler Arnason added a goal for Colorado, 11-0-3 in its last 14 meetings with Carolina. The Avalanche haven't lost to the Hurricanes since dropping a 3-2 overtime decision on Feb. 9, 1996, in Denver.

Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots for the Avalanche, who had lost four of six. They got back on the winning track by going 3-for-5 on the power play.

"We found a way to get a timely goal," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "And we had timely saves from Peter."

The most timely goal coming when Brunette poked the puck over Grahame's stick to tie it at 2 at 8:46 in the third. Liles scored the winner at 10:35 off a pass from Brunette.

"I think it was a good moment for the team," Brunette said of his first goal in 16 games. "We had to respond after their goal and we did that."

Sakic, who also had two assists, netted an insurance goal at 12:44 with a wrist shot from the slot.

Turgeon added his power-play tally with 3:37 left.

Colorado led 1-0 after one period on Arnason's ninth goal. Grahame stopped Arnason's shot from the slot, but the centre regained the puck and sent a backhander into the net at 1:22.

The Hurricanes outshot Colorado 11-9, but managed only three shots in three power-play chances. Budaj made a sprawling save to stop Ray Whitney in the final five seconds of the first.

Williams tied it at 1, converting a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second period. With Brett Clark and Brad Richardson in the penalty box, Cory Stillman found Williams alone in front of the net for a goal at 1:44.

Grahame preserved the tie with chest-high save on a shot from the slot by Ian Laperriere midway through the second period. Williams missed a chance at a go-ahead goal in the last 20 seconds when Colorado defencemen Ossie Vaananen poked the puck away with a desperate dive in the crease.

"Nothing has come easy for us and it's frustrating us," Williams said. "We seem to be getting the other team's best shot and we haven't been up to the challenge."

Notes: Carolina LW Cory Stillman made his season debut after missing 31 games with a shoulder injury. ... Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour (lower body) missed his second game. ... Carolina D Bret Hedican played in his 900th NHL game. ... Colorado D Karlis Skrastins played in his 463rd consecutive game.


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