Yet, the Hurricanes survived an early Colorado flurry and three consecutive power plays in the second period, and Sutter scored 1:15 into overtime in a 2-1 victory Friday night
"Those kills were huge," Sutter said. "We really got the momentum after that."
Sutter made his own momentum in overtime, darting down the right side against Colorado's defense and scoring past Craig Anderson to help Carolina reach .500 at 11-11-3.
The Hurricanes had three shootout losses since Nov. 19, and they came into the game with one win in their previous six games. Sutter made certain there was no shootout, scoring his fifth goal of the season.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice thought the game turned on the second-period penalty kills. "Right after that, we had a good shift and seemed to control the rest of the period," he said.
Carolina was playing better but with no tangible results, not until Jeff Skinner broke through with a rebound of his wraparound chance with 15:10 remaining. The goal was the rookie's eighth of the season.
"He seems to play his best hockey in the third period, especially in tight games, and he stays consistent," Maurice said. "That tells us he's not dragging, he's not fatiguing."
Milan Hejduk scored with 7:09 left in regulation for Colorado, which outshot Carolina 35-30.
The teams were scoreless after the first two periods, but neither team lacked for scoring opportunities. In the first period, the Avalanche -- averaging 3 1/2 goals a game -- had 12 shots in the first 10 minutes to Carolina's one. From that point to the second intermission, the Hurricanes outshot the Avalanche 21-12, surviving three consecutive Colorado power plays to keep the visitors off the board.
Goalie Cam Ward "bailed us out a few times early," Sutter said. "They had some chances, and he was able to stand on his head, and we were able to build around that."
Ward made 34 saves for Carolina, which entered the game having killed 14 of 15 power plays.
The Avalanche drew consecutive penalties on Sutter and Jay Harrison in the second but couldn't convert. Late in the second penalty kill, defenseman Jamie McBain was whistled for high-sticking against Matt Duchene after a scramble in front of the net.
Colorado got more chances, but its shots or passes went awry, and the NHL's No. 8 team on the power play was 0 for 3 in a span of about 6 1/2 minutes.
The Hurricanes seemed energized by the penalty kills, and they spent plenty of time in front of the Colorado net. But Anderson (28 saves) stood firm in the net, and the Hurricanes couldn't connect solidly on several rebound chances. Erik Cole had several opportunities, and Patrick Dwyer misfired on a rebound of Jussi Jokinen's initial attempt.
Cole played his 500th game for Carolina. Skinner's goal was just his second in the last 10 games after he had five goals in his previous seven games. ... Colorado's Duchene had his four-game goal streak end.