Wild fit to be tied -- again

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have little chance of making the NHL playoffs. You can't tell by the way they're playing.

The Hurricanes got a game-tying goal from Ron Francis with 4:15 left in regulation Sunday night to earn a 3-3 tie with the Minnesota Wild and extend Carolina's point streak to seven games (3-0-2-2).

For Minnesota, it was the Wild's league-leading 17th tie this season.

"There's still hope, right?" said Carolina's Justin Williams, who also scored. "We have to do whatever we can to get points."


Francis, a 23-season NHL veteran and the Hurricanes captain, came through when it counted. He poked a loose puck out of a scramble in front of Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez to send the game into overtime.

"Our leader really led the way," Williams said.

Marian Gaborik gave the Wild a 3-2 lead at 12:09 of the third period, and Andrei Zyuzin scored twice for Minnesota, as two of the NHL's three lowest-scoring teams combined for four goals in third period.

Zyuzin's second goal of the game tied it at 2 at 11:30 of the third period, and Gaborik broke the tie 31 seconds later.

"It's been tough a little bit for me," said Zyuzin, a healthy scratch the previous two games. "I have to go through that and go on and play hard."

Gaborik, a 30-goal scorer each of the last two seasons, has just 11 this season. Sunday's goal was his first at home since Dec. 23.

"It was a great feeling to get a goal in front of the home crowd," he said. "It pumps you up."

Jeff O'Neill put the Hurricanes in front 2-1 at 8:27 of the third when a shot by Josef Vasicek deflected off O'Neill, who was tied up with Filip Kuba in the crease.


"As soon as we got the lead, it seemed like it was gone two shifts later," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe, playing just his second game since his recall from Johnstown of the ECHL, made several tough stops, including an open chance in overtime by fellow Latvian native Sergei Zholtok.

"I've known him so long," said Irbe, who smothered Zholtok's wrist shot from the right circle. "I knew what he was going to do, especially in OT."

Zyuzin, stopped by Irbe on a point-blank attempt in the first period, opened the scoring at 11:38 of the second with a goal that snapped a streak of 19 straight failed power-play attempts for the Wild.

The lead was short-lived, however, because Justin Williams tied it just 36 seconds later.

Williams picked up a loose puck low in the left circle and moved out between the circles. Fernandez was screened by Carolina teammate Travis Henry, and Williams' wrist shot went through both players' legs.

Notes: Minnesota goaltender Dwayne Roloson was in uniform after missing two games following the death of his father. Roloson served as Fernandez's backup. ... Francis, who has not missed a game in his career, turns 41 on Monday. ... Despite a losing record overall, Minnesota has dominated Eastern Conference opponents, going 9-3-2-1 against them.



Carolina 0 1 2 0 -- 3

; Minnesota 0 1 2 0 -- 3

; First Period -- No scorig.

Second Period -- 1, Minnesota, Zyuzin 5 (Brunette, Daigle), 11:38 (pp). 2, Carolina, Williams 10 (K.Adams, Hedican), 12:14.

Third Period -- 3, Carolina, O'Neill 13 (Vasicek, Francis), 8:27 (pp). 4, Minnesota, Zyuzin 6 (Brunette, Daigle), 11:38. 5, Minnesota, Gaborik 11 (Zholtok), 12:09. 6, Carolina, Francis 10 (K.Adams, Wallin), 15:45.

Overtime -- None.

Shots on goal -- Carolina 5-9-13-1 -- 28. Minnesota 7-11-8-2 -- 28.

Goalies -- Carolina, Irbe. Minnesota, Fernandez. A -- 18,568 (18,064). T -- 2:26.

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