Cam Ward has had better November nights.

Then again, the Carolina Hurricanes goalie has always had more October opportunities.

Ward was the starter Thursday as the Hurricanes were beaten 5-3 by the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. The Avs, who aren’t lacking speed, scored three second-period goals – the third on a power play after a failed coach’s challenge by the Canes’ Bill Peters – and goalie Semyon Varlamov turned in a career-high 57 saves.

Ward had been rock-solid in his other starts this season. Both of them.

With the coming of Scott Darling, brought in to be the Canes’ No. 1 goalie this season, Ward found himself in a most unusual role. Long the franchise goalie, he was relegated to being the backup as Darling started eight of the Canes’ first 10 games.

In 11 previous full seasons, Ward played in 88 total games in October. This is different.

“There’s no question it has been an adjustment,” Ward said earlier this week. “I’m doing what I can to stay sharp in practice. When you’re not playing as much you have to emphasize more the practices and trying to stay sharp.”

When the season began Oct. 10, against the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena, Darling was in net. It was the first time Ward had not started a Canes home opener in his career, and he watched as Carolina rallied for a 5-4 shootout victory.

Ward’s first start came on the road against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct 17. He was back in his hometown and finished with 48 saves in the Canes’ 5-3 win.

“It was a lot of fun to play in Edmonton,” Ward said. “Obviously I have a lot of family and friends who still live there. When you haven’t played as much, your focus is even more dialed in, because you know you have to be ready when you haven’t seen many shots.”

Ten days later, he was back in net against the St. Louis Blues at PNC Arena. He faced 34 shots in a 2-1 loss as the Blues scored the winning goal midway through the third period when the Canes couldn’t clear the puck from their zone and Brayden Schenn had an open shot from the slot.