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Hurricanes Draw Even Late On Leafs

Tuesday, 25.03.2003 / 10:20 PM / News
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Hurricanes Draw Even Late On Leafs
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RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Jeff O'Neill's first shot of the night came at the perfect time for the Carolina Hurricanes.

O'Neill scored with 33 seconds left in regulation to lift the Hurricanes into a 3-3 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With goaltender Kevin Weekes pulled for an extra attacker, O'Neill got a feed from behind the net from Ron Francis and put a one-timer from just inside the right faceoff circle past former Hurricane Trevor Kidd to reach the 30-goal plateau for the third straight year.

"I'm just happy to be the beneficiary of his pass," O'Neill said. "I just have to stand there. He's the one who has to do all the dirty work. I didn't even see it go in."

"They got the big one at the end," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "Jeff's gotten 100 goals for us in the last three years for a team that needs to count every one of them. He's been a big part of that and scored a lot of really big goals - overtime, late in games and during critical force. He has established himself now as a pure goal-scorer."

As time wound down, Maurice took a chance by pulling Weekes for a faceoff close to center ice.

"You never know what kind of chance you're going to get, and with six out there you've got at least a much better chance of winning the scrum on the draw," the coach explained. "O'Neill has been pretty good on our faceoffs even though we haven't been great on them all night."

Just over two minutes into overtime, O'Neill had an excellent chance to win it but shot over the net off the rush.

Toronto's Alexander Mogilny had the best chances to score in the extra period. He was wide-open on the right side of the net with about 2:40 left but flubbed a wrist shot. Moments later, his wrister from the left side was stopped by Weekes.

"The puck wouldn't settle down," Mogilny explained.

With 14 seconds to go, Weekes made a left pad save on a backhander to foil Mogilny on a breakaway.

"It's just a reflection of our last couple of weeks of play," Mogilny said. "We'll take one point and move on. We got outplayed in a lot of different areas. There was a lot of miscommunication going on."

Mogilny did notch his 30th goal at 8:39 of the first period.

From in front, he one-timed a short backhanded pass from Owen Nolan to reach the 30 mark for the eighth time.

Five minutes earlier, captain Mats Sundin opened the scoring with his 34th goal, blistering a slap shot from the top of the left circle. Sundin has 60 points in 52 career games against the Hurricanes while Mogilny has 62 in as many contests.

"If you're looking for right things, the first period was pretty good, really," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We had some jump. The past two games, we haven't been there for the first and second. We were there in the first tonight."

Rookie Tomas Kurka and defenceman Aaron Ward scored in the second period for Carolina.

Kurka got his third goal of the season from in close 4:14 into the period and Ward tied it with 67 seconds remaining with a slap shot from the blue line through traffic.

"We built up a 2-0 lead in the first period and we coasted the rest of the way," Kidd said. "I don't think there's any room to make reasons up why we aren't playing the way we should be."

Nolan gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead at 8:56 of the third with his 29th goal. He deflected a shot by Mogilny between Weeke's pads for his seventh goal in nine games since he was acquired from San Jose on March 5.

"It's an offensive team. That makes it a lot easier," Nolan said. "It's a little frustrating when we have leads like that and can't seem to hold them. We should be winning. It's not something we should let slide too far."

Kidd made 28 saves for Toronto, which was denied its first sweep of Carolina since the 1992-93 campaign, when the franchise played in Hartford. The Leafs fell to 0-1-1 on a three-game road trip and are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

"You think of the goals that we gave up and the momentum changed there, obviously, in the second period. And the goals we gave up were pretty sorry goals, really," Quinn said. "It's disappointing. It's hard to watch. In the last four or five games, we've given up, I think, at least three two-goal leads.

That's discouraging right now."

Weekes turned aside 19 shots as the Hurricanes snapped a four-game losing streak against Toronto. But they are 0-3-2 in the last five overall.
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