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Canes' long road coming to an end

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Canes' long and winding road has nearly come to an end. Just one more game: Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Canes are 1-3 on their five-game trip, with close losses at Ottawa and against the Los Angeles Kings. But they went through a spirited practice today at Jobing.com Arena and appear generally upbeat about being 3-3 at this juncture of a crazy early season that has had more than 15,000 miles of travel.

"It's a tough road trip and it's been tough on us," forward Chad LaRose said. "But we've got a good bonding thing going and we've got one more game before heading back to the RBC Center. We've got a big game here and we've got to take care of business."

There are areas of concern: a few injuries, faceoffs, the power play, penalty killing. Canes coach Paul Maurice acknowledged that all are being addressed.

"And we're 3-3," Maurice said. "I'm very happy with where we are right now."

Maurice said forward Sergei Samsonov could be back in the lineup for the Coyotes. Samsonov, who was coming off a sprained neck, then took a stick in the face and has missed the last two games.

A decision on Samsonov will be made after Saturday's morning skate, Maurice said.

Cam Ward, who had 41 saves Tuesday in the 5-2 win at San Jose, will be back in goal. Justin Peters made his first start Wednesday in the 4-3 loss to the Kings, but Maurice said he did not second-guess his decision to play Peters -- the plan when the trip began -- rather than roll with Ward.

"Not even once, not a bit," Maurice said. "He played outstanding. That fourth goal wasn't a good goal, we all understand that. He made five or six great saves prior to it.

"It was absolutely the right game for him to go in. I had that one pegged right from the start."

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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